Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (MMC) has officially announced the imminent shutdown of its American plant in Normal, Illnois, effective November 2015 citing unsustainable production volumes as cause for this move.
The plant, which began operations in 1988 as part of a joint venture with Chrysler Corporation and was then known as Diamond Star Motors, became a wholly-owned subsidiary of MMC in 1991, operating as Mitsubishi Motors North America (MMNA).
Between 1988 and 2012, the plant was responsible for producing various Mitsubishi models such as the Eclipse, Galant, Spider, and Endeavor whilst also contract assembling for Chrysler up to 2005. Currently, the plant makes only the Outlander Sport (ASX to us) for the US market and export to Russia, Middle East and Latin America.
Throughout its time in operation, the plant has produced a cumulative total of 3.25 million vehicles, with annual production peaking at 222,000 units managed in year 2000. Production numbers plummeted since then due to a variety of factors, bottoming out at just 18,500 units in 2009.
Production increased back to 70,000 units 2013, which is still relatively low compared to other automotive plants around North America. Effects of the Russian economic crisis hit the plant severely, however, as the Russian market accounted for 30 percent of the plant’s volumes.
Whilst maintaining a retail presence in the region, MMC will consolidate production of vehicles originally made at Normal back to its Okazaki plant in Japan, from which 2016 model year Outlander Sports will be exported to North America.
MMNA will also be making efforts to identify a buyer for the plant with help from United Auto Workers (UAW).