Mitsubishi will stop building cars in the U.S. and sell its only American assembly plant, the company said in a statement.

"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," the Japanese carmaker said Friday. "MMC’s Board will make a formal decision in the near future and our focus right now is to identify a buyer who would continue to operate and maintain employment—the best potential outcome for our employees and the community."

Mitsubishi said it will continue to sell its cars in the U.S., including both current and upcoming models. "The North American market remains a priority for Mitsubishi Motors," the statement added.

As for its manufacturing plant in Normal, Illinois, which is also the only foreign-owned factory in the U.S., Mitsubishi will look for a buyer after its union contract expires in August 2015. Opened in 1988 as a joint venture with its then-partner Chrysler, the plant built around 70,000 2014-2015 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport models last year, about half its capacity. Its highest output was recorded in the early 2000s at more than 200,000 cars a year. The Illinois plant now has 1,250 employees.

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Why it matters

Mitsubishi’s withdrawal from the U.S. comes only three years after the company ended production in Europe. As things stand, the Japanese brand likely wants to focus its effort in Asia, where it built a production site in Thailand and bought a factory in the Philippines from Ford. The big question here is how will this move affect the U.S.-built Outlander Sport, which is the company’s best-selling vehicle in North America, accounting for about half its sales. Given the crossover is also built in Brazil, imports from South America are very likely in the future.

Mitsubishi Outlander Sport

2014 - 2015 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport High Resolution Exterior
- image 615795

Find out more about the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport here.

Source: Automotive News

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