Mitsubishi Motors will stop producing cars at its only U.S. plant in the state of Illinois and will move production to a factory in Japan, the company announced Sunday. The Japanese automaker also said that it was looking for a buyer for its U.S. facility.
According to the company, it will stop production at November-end at the Bloomington-Normal plant in Central Illinois, which only produces the Outlander Sport SUV. The crossover vehicle will be exported to the U.S. from the company’s Okazaki plant in Japan. However, a final board decision is expected to be made Thursday, Bloomberg reported.
The Illinois plant opened in 1988 as a joint venture between Mitsubishi and the then Chrysler Corp., which is now owned by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, headquartered in London. In 2009, following the financial crisis, production at the plant dropped to 18,500 units a year, down from 222,000 units in 2000. The Illinois factory, which employs more than 1,200 workers and produces vehicles for export, was also recently hit by a slump in Russian demand, Bloomberg reported.
“We are going to do everything we can to make sure people know that Mitsubishi no longer needs the facility, but that this is a facility that has a very efficient, world-class workforce and a supplier network that’s second to none,” Japan Times quoted Sen. Bill Brady, R-Bloomington, as saying last week.
According to Brady, state officials are working with the company to find another manufacturer to buy the Illinois plant, Japan Times reported, adding that Mitsubishi had decided to end production in the U.S. to focus on Asian markets.
In 2014, Mitsubishi Motors sold only 82,000 vehicles in the U.S., or less than 1 percent of the overall market, the Associated Press (AP) reported.