Mitsubishi’s production facility in Normal, Illinois officially closed on Monday, November 30, 2015, even as the search for a potential buyer remains open. The closure comes a little over four months after Mitsubishi made the announcement, saying back in July 2015 that it would sell its only assembly plant in the U.S. While it didn’t come as a shock to the 1,200 employees that were laid off work, Monday’s closure also put a lid on relationships built in the last 27 years.

The closure of the facility in Illinois is likely part of a bigger rebranding effort by the company as it tries to focus its full attention in other markets, specifically its home continent in Asia. As was previously mentioned, Mitsubishi already has a full-scale facility in Thailand. More recently, it purchased another factory, this time in the Philippines from Ford. The decision to end production in the U.S. also doesn’t mean that Mitsubishi is going to stop selling cars in the market. The Japanese automaker made that clear when it said that “both current and upcoming” Mitsubishi models will continue to be sold in the U.S. and North America. That’s good news for the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport, currently the company’s best-selling model in the U.S.

As for the laid off employees, numerous efforts are currently being undertaken to get these people back on their feet. Mitsubishi has already promised severance packages for the employees while the McLean County Chamber of Commerce in Normal is scheduled to hold a job fair in December 2015.

It was a bittersweet day for all parties involved in the closure of Mitsubishi’s production facility in Normal, Illinois. But, as the company deemed it necessary, it was a decision that had to be made. With the plant now closed, the search for a buyer continues, one that Mitsubishi hopes will continue to operate the assembly plant and maintain employment for the local community.

Continue after the jump to read the full story.

Why It Matters

Decisions to sell production facilities are almost always born out of an important need for change. That’s the biggest takeaway from this whole thing. It’s hard not to fault Mitsubishi for taking this approach, especially if it deemed that keeping the facility open was no longer best for its business. The Japanese automaker has never been a major player in the U.S. market so you can understand if it wanted to streamline its resources and put them in places where they benefit the most. Remember, the company made a similar three years ago when it closed its own production plant in Europe.

It does seem like Mitsubishi is beginning to understand that it has more to gain, both in the short and long term, if it just concentrated its resources in Asia where it still holds a strong presence. The moves to open and purchase plants in Southeast Asia seem to add credence to this new strategy. I can’t blame Mitsubishi for thinking this way, although I do feel for the 1,200 employees who now find themselves looking to start over through no fault of their own.

But that’s the nature of the business. Sometimes, you reap the rewards of good fortune and other times, you have to make hard decisions like this one. Mitsubishi found itself in that spot and it had to act accordingly based on what it thought was best for its bottom line.

2015 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport

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

Read our full review of the Outlander Sport here

Source: WEEK

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