Mitsubishi plans to quit US car production: Nikkei

24 Jul, 2015 4:28 am

DETROIT –  Mitsubishi Motors Corp (7211.T) plans to quit building cars in the United States, according to a report from Japan, but U.S. officials with the automaker declined on Thursday to comment.

Japan’s Nikkei news service said the plan to cease production at Mitsubishi’s sole U.S. plant in Normal, Illinois, is part of a strategic shift to the growing Asian market.

The company has “no statement,” said a spokesperson for Mitsubishi Motors North America.

The Nikkei report said Mitsubishi would look for a buyer for the plant, which opened in 1988 as a joint venture between Mitsubishi and its then-partner, Chrysler. The report also said Mitsubishi would begin negotiations with labor representatives to maintain employment for the plant’s workers, who are represented by the United Auto Workers union.

Normal Mayor Chris Koos, in an email on Thursday afternoon, said, “I have heard nothing, and am trying to get information” from the plant, which is located about 140 miles southwest of Chicago.

Mitsubishi is one of Japan’s smallest carmakers. In 2014, it built 1.26 million vehicles.

At its peak in the early 2000s, the Normal plant built more than 200,000 cars a year. Last year, production totaled 69,178, according to Mitsubishi. – REUTERS

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