Mitsubishi Outlander Sport Fills Production Void in Illinois Plant
Last month, Mitsubishi announced its 'Jump 2013' product initiative that essentially signaled the end of all its Normal, Ill.-built products, but now Mitsubishi Motors North America (MMNA) says it will fill the production void with its newest product, the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport. Mitsubishi will invest $100 million to produce its only assembly plant in the United States with hopes to produce at least 50,000 of the compact crossovers annually. Further down the road, it is possible that an electric vehicle or a new plug-in hybrid electric vehicle could also be built at this plant.
According to Automotive News, despite having a production capacity of well over 200,000 units annually, Mitsubishi Motor Manufacturing of America, Inc. only produced 29,375 units in 2010. As Mitsubishi attempts to phase out region specific models, such as the ones currently built in and for North America, the Mitsubishi Eclipse, Mitsubishi Galant and Mitsubishi Endeavor will be dropped in 2013 meaning there will be some production overlap. Mitsubishi's break-even point for the plant is around 70,000 units.
"With the new model, the plant will have better utilization, and, of course, we will see improved efficiency when we eventually consolidate to one model with higher production volume. I fully expect this plant will strongly improve its performance further down the road," said MMNA President Shinichi Kurihara.
The Eclipse, Galant and Endeavor all ride on the PS platform that is specific to North America, and although these models make up for more than one third of the Mitsubishi's sales in the U.S., building the Outlander Sport will create more global capacity with this model being offered in other markets where it is also known as the Mitsubishi RVR and the Mitsubishi ASX. Mitsubishi said about half of the Outlander Sport models built at the MMMA plant will be exported to other global markets. In addition to its global sales, the Outlander Sport's uses the global GS platform that underpins other models such as the Mitsubishi Lancer and Mitsubishi Outlander. All of this is a part of Mitsubishi's plan to boost global sales to 1.37 million units (an increase of 37 percent over 2010 figures) by 2013 as well as bolster the product line-up in the U.S.
"Mitsubishi Motors remains fully committed to producing vehicles in Normal,' said Kurihara. 'We will build vehicles here not just for the United States, but for many nations around the world.'
This announcement bodes well not only for the 1,300 employees of the plant, but also for Mitsubishi Motors here in the United States. Until the Outlander Sport was introduced late last year, Mitsubishi's product line-up had grown rather stale, but by 2015, the automaker plans to introduce eight new vehicles by 2015 all of which being either EVs or PHEVs. This includes the 2012 Mitsubishi i-MiEV later this year and possibly even a production version of the Mitsubishi Concept Global Small which will be unveiled next month at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show.