Mitsubishi plans to close, possibly sell Normal plant

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Mitsubishi Motors Corp. plans to close its factory in Normal and will look to sell it, the company confirmed in a statement it issued to employees on Friday.

“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. 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,” the statement said.

“Today, we shared this news with our employees and our intent to work in partnership with the UAW and civic leaders over the coming months to achieve a successful result,” the company said.

This statement was made despite one to investors on the company’s website that said no decision was made.

“There was a report in some media today regarding local production of Mitsubishi Motors North America Inc., (MMNA) a fully owned subsidiary of Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (MMC) in the United States. The content of the report is not based on anything announced from MMC. MMC has always been considering optimizing its global production structure including MMNA. However, there has been no decision made regarding it at this moment,” that statement said.

Local and national media have been pursuing the story since word of this began seeping into the United States from Japan, where the Japanese business newspaper Nikkei said the company decided to close its U.S. plant to concentrate on sales in Asia.

Other media reports, including that in the Peoria Journal Star, said the plant is slated to close in November.

The Normal plant now employs around 1,000 people, less than half what it once employed, and manufactures the Outlander Sport. It once manufactured several lines of Mitsubishi vehicles at the factory that covers more than 600 acres.

The factory began operating in the fall of 1985 as Diamond-Star Motors, a 50-50 joint venture between Mitsubishi Motors Corp. of Japan and Chrysler Corp. The announcement of the decision to locate in Normal ended a months-long chase by several states to land the factory, with all of those states, including Illinois, offering large tax incentive packages.

Cars began rolling off the assembly line in Normal in 1988.

Mitsubishi became sole owner when it bought out Chrysler in 1991.

To date, more than 3.2 million vehicles have been produced from that factory.

About the Author
Paul Gordon is the editor of The Peorian after spending 29 years of indentured servitude at the Peoria Journal Star. He’s an award-winning writer, raconteur and song-and-dance man. He also went to a high school whose team name is the Alices (that’s Vincennes Lincoln High School in Indiana; you can look it up).