Due to dwindling sales in the U.S., Mitsubishi Motors president, Tetsuro Aikawa, recently announced at a press conference that the company’s U.S.-based plant will cease production, starting in November of this year.
While the automaker is pulling the plug on production operations in the U.S., it is currently seeking a buyer for the plant in an effort to help keep its estimated 900 workers employed. The facility is located in Normal, Illinois.
If you’re planning to pursue an automotive career, read on to learn more about the closing of its plant, and find out what Mitsubishi has planned for the future.
The Production of Japanese Cars in North America
Mitsubishi’s Illinois factory was originally a joint venture with Chrysler. This was the company’s first attempt to compete in the U.S. auto retail market. Chrysler pulled out of its partnership with Mitsubishi in 1991, leaving the Japanese company to fend for itself.
During its busiest time in the early 2000s, Mitsubishi’s Illinois plant was producing over 200,000 cars a year. However by 2014, the automaker had ceased to produce many of its models, focusing primarily on its Outlander Sport vehicle. This change meant that Mitsubishi’s Illinois plant was making a mere 69,178 annually as of last year.
Students pursuing auto industry careers may also remember several other failed attempts, by Japanese automakers, to produce vehicles in North America. Here are a few endeavors that occurred in the 1980s and 1990s:
- In 1984, Toyota launched a plant with General Motors in Freemont, California. GM pulled out in 2009, and Toyota sold the plant to Tesla for $42 million in 2010.
- Suzuki partnered with GM in 1989 and together they opened a plant in Ingersoll, Ontario. Suzuki sold its half to GM in 2009.
Mitsubishi Motors: A Flourishing Auto Career Outside of North America
Even though its Illinois plant will be closed, the company will still be producing cars. Mitsubishi plans to shift its focus over to its other production plants in countries like Japan, Russia, and Southeast Asia. Mitsubishi will definitely continue to sell cars in North America through its many dealerships across Canada and the U.S.
Experts say that the automaker should have no trouble selling its Illinois plant. It will most likely be purchased by an American auto manufacturer looking to complete smaller production runs of its more popular models.
Aside from closing its U.S. plant, Mitsubishi is actually doing really well. At this point in the year, sales are up and the company is planning to expand production into Indonesia and the Philippines.
Students pursuing careers in auto technology might also be interested in learning that the Canadian press launch for the 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander SUV will take place in Vancouver and Whistler early this month.