Mitsubishi’s plant in Normal, Ill. is set to shut its doors for good. That’s what Japan’s Nikkei news service is reporting today, though U.S. representatives for the company declined to comment.
The plant was opened by Diamond-Star Motors, a joint venture between Mitsubishi and Chrysler, in 1988 after two years of construction. It currently builds the Outlander Sport/RVR, but was tasked with manufacturing the Eclipse/Plymouth Laser/Eagle Talon, Mirage/Eagle Summit, Galant, and coupe versions of the Dodge Avenger, Stratus and Chrysler Sebring during its lifetime.
Perhaps as a result of what Mitsubishi had learned thus far since the introduction of the Outlander PHEV in Europe, Japan and Australia — as well as a MY 2016 redesign — the United States-bound PHEV “will be completely different,” according to both Mitsubishi Motors North America Executive Vice President Don Swearingen and U.S. PR boss Alex Fedorak.
No one out-zombies Mitsubishi. Quite a few manufacturers have had brushes with death, only to bounce back strongly with competitive new cars. For Mitsubishi there’s been no bounce. Yet they’re still alive. Assuming Mitsubishi’s people aren’t actually brain dead, they must be in crisis mode. And cash must be short. So if they employ their scant resources to add a new model, the Outlander Sport, there must be something terribly compelling about it, right? Well, Mitsubishi didn’t exactly swing for the fences. The basic concept behind the Outlander Sport: remove a foot from the rear overhang of the Outlander CUV, cut $3,500 from the base price ($1,000 of it by making a CVT optional), make Bluetooth and USB connectivity standard, and hope the kids bite.