Mitsubishi to end US vehicle production

Washington :Japanese automaker Mitsubishi said today it would stop making vehicles in the United States and is looking to sell its underused Illinois plant.

“Following a review of Mitsubishi Motor Corporation’s global supply chain, we have been informed it is necessary to end production and seek a strategic buyer for the Normal plant,” Mitsubishi Motors North America said in a statement.

Mitsubishi said it will continue to sell its cars, including current and planned models, at US dealerships. “The North American market remains a priority for Mitsubishi Motors,” it said.

The company ended production in Europe three years ago.

Mitsubishi has been focusing its efforts in Asia, building a production site in Thailand and buying a factory in the Philippines from Ford.

The Illinois factory makes the Outlander Sport crossover and has 1,250 employees, according to the company. The plant manufactured just 60,000 vehicles last year, about half its capacity, Japanese public broadcaster NHK reported.

Mitsubishi’s US vehicle sales jumped 24.9 percent in the first half of 2015 from the same period a year ago. But the company trails far behind its Japanese rivals in the huge US auto market.

In June, for example, Mitsubishi sold 7,963 vehicles, while Toyota’s take was 209,912 and Honda sold 134,397.

The Outlander Sport was the company’s best-seller, accounting for about half the sales.