By on September 19, 2015

2013 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport now Made in America

Mitsubishi is planning to end operations at its Normal, Illinois plant and notify workers at the end of September of their plans to close the facility after failing to find a buyer for the plant, Reuters (via Automotive News) reported.

It’s unclear what may happen to the 900 hourly workers who make Mitsubishi Outlanders if a buyer for the plant isn’t found by November. According to the report, last year the plant churned out nearly 70,000 crossovers.

Mitsubishi and the United Auto Workers union this month were negotiating a contract for the workers that would extend to the original closing date for the plant, which was slated for next spring.

The Normal plant was extended $29 million in tax incentives by Illinois in 2011 to keep the plant open for 10 years. The Bloomington Pantagraph reported that Mitsubishi officials sought approval for another year’s worth of tax incentives five weeks before they announced the plant was closing in July.

The plant was opened in 1988 as a joint venture between Chrysler and Mitsubishi and the Japanese company took sole ownership in 1991. Subaru of America’s Lafayette, Indiana plant is roughly 100 miles from the Mitsubishi plant and was considered to be a potential buyer for the plant.

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110 Comments on “Report: Mitsubishi Preparing To Close Plant In Normal Soon...”


  • avatar
    Toad

    Illinois is skidding into bankruptcy and will need to grab cash from anything and anyone it can. Not the place I would want to buy a factory.

  • avatar
    kmars2009

    Can’t blame Mitsubishi for not wanting to support the UAW any longer. Those workers make WAY too much money too. $40 plus per hour…plus mega benefits. No wonder the price of a vehicle just keeps getting more and more outrageous.

    • 0 avatar

      So how much should the average factory worker be paid per hour? And please don’t try to deflect the question by saying “it should be left up to the free market.” I want to hear YOUR answer.

      • 0 avatar
        Mandalorian

        It’s not really the $ amount that’s the big deal, it’s all the benefits.

        On a side note: Subaru REALLY should buy this place. They need the capacity.

        • 0 avatar
          Dave M.

          Subaru doesn’t need Illnois’ bureaucratic burdens, and they don’t need the UAW.

        • 0 avatar
          wmba

          @ Mandalorian:

          Subaru aren’t brain dead and would have known about this plant in Normal going for almost free a year before Mitsubishi started rattling the media cages in July.

          The problem, if it is one at all, is that Subaru have already been extending their Lafayette plant since last year:

          http://www.jconline.com/story/news/2015/01/06/subaru-sales-production-sia-lafayette/21333059/

          This is a reasonably complete article.

          We’re all at least 9 months out of the loop, so proffering the factory to Subaru here in September is kind of like the janitor advising the rocket designer how to design turbopumps for liquid oxygen. Well meaning and that’s about it. They obviously are not interested and haven’t broadcast the reasons. Also there are at least three suppliers setting up plants around Lafayette.

          • 0 avatar
            wmba

            Just to add: Subaru uses a lot of foreign workers in Japan such as asylum seekers, Chinese on “work training” and so on.

            Reuters tried to expose this cr*p just six weeks ago in an article titled “Subaru’s secret: Low-paid foreign workers power an export boom”:

            http://mobile.reuters.com/article/idUSKCN0Q21GS20150729

            All about 180 degrees from the image they foster here.

      • 0 avatar
        jpolicke

        It’s not really skilled labor, it’s repetitive assembly broken down to simple tasks. From what I’ve seen of modern auto assembly, it’s not very laborious labor any more, either.

        Based on the skills and education it takes to assemble a car, I think the Tier 2 wage paid by the D3 is more than fair. Then again, SEIU thinks you should get $15/hr to “assemble” a hamburger.

      • 0 avatar
        ScarecrowRepair

        A more perfect illustration of why both of you are idiots is hard to come by.

        The price of everything is a subject for buyer and seller only. It is no one else’s business — not the government’s, not either of yours, not mine.

      • 0 avatar
        kmars2009

        Honda in Ohio pays $25 to $30 to it’s workers. Ford, GM, and FCA…$40 plus. The American manufacturers make bad negotiations, and pamper their workers. I know a Ford worker making $45 hr and is dumb as a stump. The robots assist them in everything. He does very little for that compensation. It’s high way robbery…and it’s passed on to the consumer.

        • 0 avatar
          mikey

          Gee if your going to post a B.S comment, give it some thought. Unskilled labour doesn’t come close to $40 an hour. Robots work independently , in a closed in environment . Humans and robots do not work together.

          • 0 avatar
            kmars2009

            Go visit a factory. Who or what do you think is lifting dashboards and other components into the cars to be screwed in? Robots! Not all robots weld!. I’m from NE OHIO. I personally know Ford and GM line workers….do you?

          • 0 avatar
            mikey

            Let’s see …5 years at Oshawa plant one, installing everything from gas tanks to , speedo cables. A year.at the wheel drop. 3 years front end sheet metal. Two years training hourly assemblers . 10 years production group leader . Five years working with highly automated Kamatsu transfer press . 10 years as a dock tech, working with a fully automated Storage and retrieval system. I probably know hundreds of people, that have worked in every aspect of vehicle asembly.

            Btw ….the proper term is instrument panel, not Dashboard . The operators use a lift assist, to facilitate install. The lift is fully controlled by the operator , not a robot

            Yeah I might have some knowledge

          • 0 avatar
            BobinPgh

            Really? I thought NASA and Carnegie Mellon University were making robots that can work together with astronauts and other workers as a team – or does that not happen with manufacturing?

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            “Humans and robots do not work together.”

            Yet…

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            BENDER: I came here with a simple dream. A dream of killing all humans.

      • 0 avatar
        April S

        If the automakers (and their anti-union fanboys here) could get away with it they would go back to $5 a day in wages.

        Hey, it worked for Ford (in 1914)…

    • 0 avatar
      mikey

      Zzzzzzzzzzzzz …..

      • 0 avatar
        kmars2009

        Whateves…some of us have an education and brains. I never needed to go blue collar…fortunately. I didn’t hear anything about you working for Ford, or any of the large manufacturers. Components suppliers are not FINAL ASSEMBLY. Oshawa? For who?
        Anyway….all workers associated with the UAW ARE PAID TOO MUCH.
        Also, DASHBOARD …INSTRUMENT PANNEL…save me your lowbrow blue collar terminology. Who cares. It’s all junk. Especially at GM.

        • 0 avatar
          mikey

          If what you sprout off, is indicative of an education ,and brains, its a comfort to know I lack both.

        • 0 avatar
          ttiguy

          Let me make it clear to you kmars2009. You have NO IDEA what you are talking about. I am a manufacturing engineer for one of the major automakers (yeah I have a fancy engineering degree so maybe you’ll respect my perspective) and I think I have an idea how an assembly plant works. There is absolutely no interaction between people and robots whatsoever. Im guessing these “robots” that install dashboards that you are referring to are actually lift assists in general assembly. Those are much different than “robots”. We go to extreme measures to eliminate any possibility of interaction between robots and people during normal production. The UAW types that you appear to think you’re better than have a job that I respect. Then again I actually know what they do for a living.

          • 0 avatar
            kmars2009

            Congratulations…u answered my question. Funny…whatever you call them, it looks like a piece of cake. But that’s my opinion.

          • 0 avatar
            mechaman

            Whenever I hear someone spout off about how lousy we ‘union’ workers are, I have to thank the universe that I am not close enough to strangle the crap out of them. I take pride in my work and have done so for over 30 years. Contrary to the usual mainstream BS, you do a bad job at a union shop, you get bounced, There Ain’t No Free Lunch. I’ve worked at non-union shops too … and I’ve seen lousy workers there as well (and they got bounced). In both types of places, you put the product together with the tools and material, by the blueprints supplied by MANAGEMENT, and they inspect your work – so if you got a lousy item, I can assure you that they didn’t cut us any slack if we made any mistakes in the assembly .. after a couple, they strongly suggest that you take up another career. Somewhere else.

          • 0 avatar
            Pig_Iron

            @ttiguy

            You poor bugger. I love manufacturing engineers. They make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear nearly every single day. Instead of thanks, their reward is being savaged on both sides by quality and production. Don’t even get me started on unmanufacturable product designs, or insane hours and lost family time because “that line better be back up and running before first shift start-up”. And yet most of seem to not only retain their sanity, but are relatively good natured folks too.
            :-)

    • 0 avatar
      paris466

      Mitsubishi workers don’t make $40+ per hour plus benefits, you moron. Skilled trades (maintenance) doesn’t even make near that. Top pay is $24 and that’s if you started before 2008. Top pay for new hires is (or was going to be) $20/hr after 6 years, plus greatly reduced benefits.

      Try knowing what you’re talking about before commenting. You’ve never worked in an auto plant, so keep your mouth shut.

    • 0 avatar
      Kicked to the Curb

      I work at the Mitsubishi plant. Most people have been there over 26 years, from the beginning. They make $24.00/Hr. Some make $18.00/Hr., others only $14.00/Hr. Most workers are in their 50’s or 60’s. Try to find a decent job at that age..On most jobs you are on a dead run for over 2 hours and have to ask permission and wait your turn to even use the bathroom. Most of the workers have permanent physical problems due to the repetitive demanding work: Carpal tunnel, joint problems, etc. They will have to find care for that now with no medical insurance in the future. The profits of an outrageous price of a car do not trickle down to the factory workers.

    • 0 avatar
      Steve Biro

      Interesting. The prices of Mitsubishis from the Normal plant have been quite competitive. I don’t think one can call UAW wages a problem in this case. Besides, $40 an hour is about how much it costs to live a middle-class lifestyle in the U.S.

      Of course, that’s assuming UAW workers actually made $40 an hour. It’s more like $28 for legacy workers and $15-$19 for tier-two workers. That $40 figure is the approximate total hourly labor cost for the Big Three. That INCLUDES all benefits, overtime, vacation time, etc. It’s important to keep one’s facts straight.

      And I agree with those who feel Subaru should buy this plant. There’s just no getting around the fact that Fuji Heavy needs the extra capacity. The growth of Subaru is being held up without it. I’ll bet buying this existing plant and tooling it for Subaru production would be considerably cheaper than building a new plant.

      • 0 avatar
        kmars2009

        $40 per hour is NOT basically middle class in the Midwest. Get real!
        Why they all need new custom homes, boats, jet skis, motorcycles, summer homes, multiple vacations, and months of sick days. Not to mention A Plan, B Plan, and other huge discounts on new cars…is beyond me. THAT sort of living is NOT middle class. Especially for individuals without a College degree.

        • 0 avatar
          Lou_BC

          The definition of middle class varies. If one looks at wages alone then auto workers are lower to middle of the middle class. If one wants to work enough OT then they can easily move to the top end.
          Most definitions of middle class tend to be based on education and job type. Middle class by that definition tends to encompass individuals with degrees or higher and most would be managers or those with say in the product or service provided.

          @kmars2009 – sour grapes much?

          I don’t tend to begrudge a person for the wage they make. I do often question the reasons for those wages and their effects on the marketplace and workplace.

          Henry Ford first started paying autoworkers higher wages (higher than others of the time) to ensure a stable workforce which improved profits.

          I do think that the high wages you talk about are becoming a thing of the past in the auto industry. For example the American Axle strike was an example of “unskilled” workers taking a big hit.

        • 0 avatar

          kmars2009, You think a college degree is some kind of guarantee that ensures that the folks you think are your intellectual inferiors will not be able to afford the lifestyle to which you believe you are entitled?

          How dare the proles enjoy their cottages and boats?

          If what you’ve demonstrated here is indicative of your intellectual abilities, I doubt you’re capable of accomplishing much, no matter what kind of degree you think you’ve earned.

          I’m no big fan of organized labor, but Mikey knows more about automotive manufacturing than your condescending self will ever know. He’s also demonstrated more intellectual ability than you have. Not only am I willing to bet that he could do your job better than you could do his, I’m pretty sure that with minimal training, he could do your job better than you can.

          • 0 avatar
            kmars2009

            How lowbrow. Typical blue collar attitude. Attack me, rather than address the facts. They’re overpaid for their level of education. Sorry! Just a fact. Honda has a more reasonable pay structure.
            As far as them enjoying the fruits of their labor goes, good for them. Until the jobs get allocated to Mexico…or eventually China. Then it will all be forclosed on. I’ve seen Ford do it in Ohio. Sorry man!
            Save your attacks. I’m am only conveying what I have seen friends go through. If you don’t like it, too bad. It’s only the truth.
            Personally, GM and Chrysler should have gone bankrupt.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            “They’re overpaid for their level of education.”

            Education does not equate intelligence nor does it indicate a specific pay scale. I know plenty of educated people who are at best fools and at worst idiots. I also know several “educated” people who work at the local Starbucks. I wouldn’t begrudge all of those auto workers for growing up in a world were debt was not a prerequisite for a job not flipping hamburgers. I do not like the UAW or its choices, but I for one would have loved to not go into debt 33K and end up paying probably close to 50K (at this point) just to get a fracking job. We shouldn’t live in a nation where DEBT, because that’s what “education” is here, precludes WORK. Its part of the reason things are on a slow boat to hell.

            “Personally, GM and Chrysler should have gone bankrupt.”

            Chrysler probably could have been liquidated and all would have been well, but GM was too big and Pres Bush was right to do something. Now the details of what happened after, and its impact, is another story altogether.

          • 0 avatar
            mikey

            Thanks Ron.., and 28 cars.

            Oh, I have come across more than one “Kmars 2009 ” in my life.

            For the most part, its an attitude they wear , like a poorly fitted suit. They think they look pretty sharp. Truth be known, they look , and sound , like the condescendingly idiots they are.

          • 0 avatar
            SC5door

            I see inside of an automotive plant (Chicago) every single day; I can confirm everything that mikey has said.

            Instrument panels typically come in either fully assembled or partially. To install the completed IP into the car–the operator uses a lift assist unit to place the unit into the car WITHOUT hitting the door frame and damaging the IP itself on the way in. We stop the vehicle to install; others may not. But you have SECONDS to get the job done—regardless if you have to pee, your back is sore, sweat in your eyes or if you’re thirsty.

            In the summer if it’s 95 out—it’s even hotter inside.

            I’ve seen plenty of people with college degrees wasting them as they can’t find work—and forget if you have an “arts” degree.

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            kmars2009 – one should never look down upon anybody because there is always a chance that you’ll be the one looking up needing help.

    • 0 avatar
      Bradshaw12

      hey kmars2009 where the hell have you been??? $40 bucks an hour??? I’ve worked there 28 years and NEVER brought home $40 bucks an hour!! you need to go back to surfing Pinterest or FB.

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    I bet the Thai workers building Mitsubishi Mirages aren’t making $40 per DAY.

  • avatar
    readallover

    Whomever wants to buy this plant is probably waiting for it to close. They do not want to be forced to hire this workforce and want to hire their own. And get a better price from Mitsubishi.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      Er, union contracts don’t run with the property.

      • 0 avatar
        BobinPgh

        No, but I have found out that one way to kill a union is to kill the employer they work for. For example, back in the 80s we used to have Kroger stores in our area and they were unionized. When Kroger decided that the union workers cost too much, Kroger abruptly closed all their supermarkets in the area, thus the union having no reason to exist. There has not been a Kroger for over 30 years. Letting this plant close will likely do the same for any buyer of this plant.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      readallover, will Mitsu stop selling its products in America? The dealer that last serviced our JGC is also a Mitsu dealer and they gave no indication that they would stop selling Mitsu.

      I did a search and did not find anything definitive that said Mitsu would stop selling in America.

  • avatar
    rudiger

    Mitsubishi seems like a dead-auto-company-walking and would likely be following Suzuki out of the US market if it weren’t for one vehicle: the Mirage. Despite scathing reviews (I think one even suggested it be included on the Worst Cars Ever Built list), the Mirage, with a virtually non-existent ad campaign, has become a surprise hit and is actually selling well. I might go so far as to suggest it’s only Mirage sales that’s keeping Mitsubishi afloat in the US at this stage.

    • 0 avatar
      HerrKaLeun

      One-trick-pony. And the magic of the mirage may be over soon. Even if it stays successful (for Mitsu standards anyway), who can survive with one single low-margin vehicle?

    • 0 avatar
      ahintofpepperjack

      The Outlander and Outlander Sport are quite popular around here (Twin Cities, MN). Mitsubishi is a large conglomerate and cars are just a small part of what they do. They aren’t going anywhere.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        MMNA could go away though even if the parent company does not.

        • 0 avatar
          rudiger

          That’s what Suzuki did. They’re certainly still selling motorcycles in the US, as well as vehicles in non-US markets. Mitsubishi, likewise, will definitely still exist if they were to pull out of the US, as well.

          I wonder if the success of the Mirage will be a repeat of Studebaker and the 1959 Lark. While the Lark sold well (at least until the Big 3 got their compacts to market), Studebaker didn’t really seem to capitalize on that sales success and simply let the company founder. Mitsubishi, likewise, doesn’t really seem to be putting much effort into staying in the US, either (much like how Suzuki just faded away, too).

          • 0 avatar

            My understanding is that auto dealer franchise agreements cost a lot of money to break – that GM spent something like a billion dollars paying of Oldsmobile dealers when they killed them off. So Mitsubishi may be sticking around because it’s cheaper for them to stay here than to pay off the dealers if they leave.

            If they can starve the dealers of product long enough, they might get enough dealers to close on their own to make it cost-effective for them to pull out.

          • 0 avatar
            rudiger

            If that’s the case (and it may very well be), it must be driving MMNA higher-ups crazy with the Mirage now selling. Here they are, intentionally trying to starve the Mitsubishi dealerships out of business to wind down operations as inexpensively as possible, and those damn crazy Americans suddenly decide to start buying cars that they tried to make as crappy as possible.

  • avatar
    mikey

    The UAW membership , are paid to assemble the vehicle, to management standards , with management approving the engineering. The UAW membership has zero input, into design , marketing , what to build , or when to build it. In a modern assembly plant, the individual worker , has very little impact ,concerning “final build quality” perceived or otherwise.

    By most reports, and reviews ….the Mitsubishi product line up, is poorly engineered , and poorly executed. The plant closing is a direct result of lousy management, at all levels.

    Unfortunately 900 workers , and some lower level management , will pay the price.

    Been there, done that.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      Add this to NUMMI and Westmoreland as the transplant factories that have failed. What did they have in common?

      • 0 avatar
        mikey

        Yeah ….I know where your going. Westmoreland had a lousy product , and terrible quality, …arguably , it seems to be an ongoing issue with VW products. Nummi was a causality of 2008 – 2010. Believe it or not , there is still the uninformed. that wouldn’t touch a used Vibe, but would pay a premium for a Matrix

        • 0 avatar
          CJinSD

          Would you rather work in a UAW factory that’s constantly under the threat of closure, which would be all of them; or would you rather build Hondas in Ohio? If your answer is a UAW factory; seriously think about what is causing you to say something completely insane.

          • 0 avatar
            mikey

            From all accounts , Honda produces a pretty fine product. Honda also pays a fairly attractive pay. / benefit , package, thereby keeping the UAW , from knocking at the door.

          • 0 avatar
            Xeranar

            Oh please, the vast majority of Vehicles that enter the US are made by Unions. BMW, Mercedes, VW/Audi, Toyota, Honda, Nissan-Renault, and the rest of the big players are unionized in all aspects but a handful of transplant plants and the Mexican plants to some extent. The only reason the Mexican Plants aren’t fully unionized is the governmental pressure to keep these places cheap to justify not crossing the border into the US and they do use open force as necessary.

            This fantasy that ‘unions make bad products’ is just silly. It’s been the same argument used since the 1870’s and not one economist has been able to PROVE this to be true on any level. The closest they come is when the discordant workers rely on obstructive or destructive tactics but when the workers are not doing something intentional over a difference there products are on par or superior to their non-unionized counterparts. In most cases though there is no counterpart as our planet becomes of two worlds with low-cost/low-quality slave wages in NICs and China building whatever they can to export and try to grow their economy at all costs and the established 1st and 2nd world players unionized making high-quality/luxury products at a different price point.

            The endless union bashing gets old. If you hate Unions, OK, we get it, you really don’t understand economics nor the premise of a union but that’s fine. At least find facts to assert your position instead of trite anecdotes and worn out stories that nobody is buying.

            28 actually wrote a fairly accurate post explaining that Westmoreland’s VW plant wasn’t the hell hole it was made out to be, it was largely just a poor product sold at a price people were uninterested in never mind the small distribution network. It also ignores the heavily-unionized Japanese market-built models that stormed our shores. It’s a conveniently ignored fact that turns the argument towards the UAW as the singular wrong-doer but we know that isn’t true either. They have no say in design and fit/finish/build quality has more to do with structural design.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            The Wikipedia entry is quite interesting on the subject, although it seems to gloss over issues between VAG HQ and the plant itself.

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            You sure do like putting workers out of work, Xeranar. All auto manufacturing job losses in the US over the past five decades have been UAW jobs, except in the cases of a few suppliers whose primary customers were UAW final assembly plants. Why don’t you want job security for autoworkers?

            http://laborunionreport.com/2014/01/12/two-graphs-that-show-how-unions-have-gone-from-bad-to-worse-in-manufacturing/

            VW Westmoreland had plenty of strikes to deal with during its brief existence, primarily games played by the UAW, but also they had to shut down for a while due to a Teamsters strike cutting off their parts supply. The characterization of the Rabbit they built as being as bad as a Chevrolet Malibu overlooks that they also made the GTI there, which nobody had much criticism for at the time.

          • 0 avatar
            Xeranar

            Citing a trashy and trite right-wing anti-labor site masquerading as a news site isn’t much of a citation. I mean, their entire graphic was meant to portray some obtuse arguments about manufacturing and unionization. Never mind that when you make that argument you’re conceding that capitalism is broken and that workers are designed to lose their jobs and paid lower wages when and where possible.

            So you need to pick your poison CJ, are you going to admit that Capitalism in all it’s glory is nothing more than a system to reward a few owners at the top who will shuffle workers around like cogs until they find the cheapest ones that don’t break (or strike in this case) by using the government and their wealth to enforce it or are we going to discuss how most of the unionized jobs lost were in larger industries where they moved overseas and thus the smaller non-unionized manufacturing plants that were less likely to be viable overseas were largely untouched?

            So are you going to go ahead and concede your worldview or admit that the statistic is so flawed as to be a worthless comparison. I think they’re both pretty accurate in that respect but hey…you live in the fantasy land of communism being a real threat still.

            PS: Don’t try and pull rhetorical questions you can’t answer honestly. You just look like a bigger ass.

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            You’re all over the place now. Do you really not know that the numbers used to make those graphs are an accurate representation of job losses for private sector unions in the US? Denial is pathetic, when we’re talking about your specialty and you’re trying to use standard fascist ad hominem dismissal to avoid reality.

            Capitalism didn’t fail all those displaced union victims. Socialism did. It isn’t capitalism that tries to pervert job markets to make people not worthy of their compensation. 80% of the manufacturing laborers that lost their jobs did so because they were mislead by the rent-seeking ‘labor organizers’ that you fellate. That’s 28% of workers suffering 80% of job losses because of people like you. And you blame capitalism, something you’ll never understand.

            As for the 8% of non-union manufacturing laborer jobs that became obsolete, well that’s the cost of automation and the EPA. Are technological advancements and regulations somehow unique elements of private property rights and the freedom they create, the thing liars call capitalism?

            Unions do their harm even where capitalism is completely absent. I know far more than I want to about teachers unions. The parallels to the UAW are growing. Here in California, they’ve instituted the adversarial, no accountability, less work, more pay model to a tee. Kids don’t learn anything. Job banks occupy schools that have no students which were built to satisfy other unions. Cost is sky high, but the lack of results is used to demand more money. Teachers are told they could be laid off every summer so they’ll take to the picket lines and whine about the hardships of having to work almost 4.5 days a week, 9 months a year. Unions have destroyed so many private sector jobs in the US that they’ve been forced to steal directly from the citizenry. Even the leaders most celebrated by liberal revisionists knew that public sector unions were a poison that would kill our society, but we’ve got them now, with all the closed-loop corruption between lefty politicians that buy their votes with other people’s money and resulting wages that far outstrip those of the people forced to pay for them. Is it any wonder that the teachers unions don’t want parents to have any freedom to actually educate their children via charter schools or home-schooling? Capitalism can’t be allowed to stop the harm caused by unions. Just look how pathologically ignorant they’ve made you.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          Everything outside of Japanese products was some degree of terrible at the time. Westmoreland failed due to VAG upper management in West Germany and UAW policies at that time, actual workers I have met told me as such (it eventually become a Sony plant before Sony closed it). Wikipedia notes some of these points but it does not cite specific sources about the feelings of senior management in Wolfsburg. One worker I met claimed visiting German dignitaries and engineers were jealous as the plant by the mid 80s was assembling a better VW than Mexico and in West Germany. Westmoreland built Rabbits were a thing in the early 90s in these parts, sort of a source of pride. In high school I don’t seem to recall the 80s grade VW’s (Rabbits, Golfs) people had as being terrible. I also recall a number of classic Beetles still on the road in my youth. They seemed to be gone by the late 90s when I started driving.

          “Neither buyers nor company executives in Germany were pleased with the Americanization of the Rabbit using a softer suspension, less expensive interior materials and decidedly un-Germanic color-keyed interiors.[19] Popular Mechanics said “inside is where you really see the Americanization of the Rabbit, the interior is comfortable but puffy. In fact, it’s downright tacky”[17] – adding that the side marker lights on the Rabbit looked as if they “came off a kids bike.”[17] USAToday, in 2010 described the Americanization of the Rabbit from Westmoreland: “Malibu-ing the Rabbit was the dismissive comment at the time, a reference to a soft-riding Chevy model unloved by fans of German makes.”[20] Management at Volkswagen of America was also described as having become Americanized[21] and having struggled with advertising for Westmoreland’s main product, the Rabbit. In his 2002 book Getting the Bugs Out: the Rise, Fall, and Comeback of Volkswagen in America, David Kiley said that “the German character was fading into oblivion.”[”

          “On October 13, 1978, six months after the plant opened, UAW workers staged a wildcat strike at Westmoreland for salaries equal to those received by General Motors Corporation employees.[31] Picketing workers chanted “No Money, No Bunny.”[32] In 1981, Westmoreland Assembly avoided a strike when it reached agreement with the UAW over essentially the same issue: the disparity between wages earned at Westmoreland, where assemblers made an average of $10.76 per hour, and those at domestic auto plants in Detroit, where at GM and Ford, for example, assemblers made an average of $11.42 per hour”

          “In September 1982, VWoA President Jim McLernon resigned amid widening losses.[26] In 1983 VWoA sold its Sterling Heights, Michigan plant back to Chrysler, the same former Chrysler missile plant it had previously purchased to develop as its second North American assembly plant. Subsequently, VWoA sold the former American Motors stamping plant in South Charleston, West Virginia and its air-conditioning and plastic-trim plant in Texas to Valeo SA.[1] Over the Thanksgiving weekend in 1987, Volkswagen announced it would close Westmoreland Assembly[4] and on July 14, 1988, VWoA closed the plant.”

          “Initially, the plant was highly successful, but numerous factors contributed to a sharp decline in sales of the cars manufactured at Westmoreland and the factory’s ultimate demise: increased competition in the North American small car market, easing of the period’s fuel crisis, poorly received changes to the character of the cars, VWoA’s long product life-cycle, the internal economics of the plant itself, persistent labor unrest at the plant and poor networking between Westmoreland and Volkswagen headquarters in Germany.[7] The factory operated at less than half its design capacity and VWoA suffered operating losses during the last five years of its operation.[3] Sales of Volkswagen’s U.S.-built cars plummeted by nearly 60 percent between 1980 and 1985.”

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volkswagen_Westmoreland_Assembly

          Addtional: here’s another fun fact I was not aware of:

          “VWoA purchased the site with a $40 million loan from the state of Pennsylvania and then invested about $250 million to ready the factory for assembly.[1] In the richest corporate deal to date in Pennsylvania history, state and local officials offered VWoA an incentive package worth nearly $100 million in government assistance, highway and rail improvements and a property-tax exemption”

          “VWoA sold the facility itself to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the factory remained dormant for several years.”

          VAG pumped and dumped the Commonwealth and then probably forced it to buy the plant. I imagine ten years was long enough to recoup their $290 million in 1978 dollars and at least break even. How long has Chattanooga been open, 2011? Makes me wonder what 2021 holds for them…

          • 0 avatar
            mikey

            Very informative 28 cars. How refreshing , to see someone make thier point, without resorting to insults.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Thanks Mikey.

            The other thing to note here is the vast amount of money spent to create a few thousand half decent jobs. Maybe somehow there is a greater economic return on these investments (ie ripple effect to other services/industries from these XXXX jobs) but the math doesn’t seem to add up.

          • 0 avatar

            Look only to current events transpiring today to see exact how skillful VAG higher-ups are at operating in the US market.

          • 0 avatar
            Lorenzo

            BTW, the $10.76/hr would be just over $28/hr today, while the $11.42 would be just under $30/hr today, adjusted for inflation. In 1981, I was a state employee, collecting tolls, for $1197/month, or $6.90/hr, about $18/hr today.

            My pay was good beer/gas/muni-golf/baseball-game/camping/fishing money for a single guy, but pretty tight to raise a family on. That’s what my father was making in a textile mill, and I was giving my mother grocery money, though I didn’t live at home.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      NUMMI was shuttered primarily because of the GM bankruptcy. No comparison to Westmoreland, which closed because VW was losing customers (the Americanized cars were garbage compared to the Japanese competition) and relations were genuinely bad.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        Did you listen to the “This American Life” story about NUMMI? It’s pretty illuminating for people that don’t know what the UAW is all about. It is also available in print, I believe.

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          While it’s nice that public radio covered NUMMI, that segment is not the only source of information about it.

          It was Toyota’s success at NUMMI that encouraged it to build more US plants. If NUMMI had been a failure, then it would have confirmed their suspicions that Americans could not work in a lean environment.

          The GM bankruptcy posed a problem for Toyota because NUMMI was a JV between TMC and the old GM.

    • 0 avatar
      mechaman

      Thanks for putting the TRUTH here on this page. I had two Mitsu’s (not built by UAW workers). Both were the two worst cars I have ever owned (why did I have two? Well, my dad had a friend who worked at a Mitsu/Chrysler dealer, and me and the wife needed a car .. regrets all around for taking the bait twice and missing the trap).

      I work for a company that has similar features to the auto industry, and it’s almost blackly amusing to see that now, as market share has slipped away from them, the management is whining about ‘costs’ (us). When they had money, they wouldn’t invest it in better equipment – and, no, they didn’t give it to us, either. Now they wish they had better equipment. So somehow we are at fault. It’s hard not knowing whether you should laugh or cry when someone says, “Well, see if you can make it work.”

      • 0 avatar
        JD23

        Shortsighted management is as much of a problem as labor cost. The plant in Normal is closing because there is little demand for the uncompetitive vehicles built there, which is a problem that cannot be directly linked to the assembly workforce.

        • 0 avatar
          CJinSD

          There’s an amazing correlation between union labor forces in the US and uncompetitive products. I understand the distinction between causation and correlation, but if I wanted to keep my job; I’d fight to the death to keep unions out of my workplace. 75% of private sector union manufacturing jobs have disappeared in the past thirty years compared to 8% of non-union manufacturing jobs. In 1983 only 28% of manufacturing jobs were organized, but they absorbed 80% of job losses in the sector since.

          As they vanish, unions say it isn’t us; it’s bad management. Somehow bad management goes hand in hand with an adversarial work force. It’s almost like knowing that successful products will lead to strikes makes for less incentive to perform; that money spent on extra headcount required by work rules leads to less money for research and development; and that a work force obsessed with doing less for more doesn’t provide useful innovations from the shop floor. Nah. It’s all bad management.

          • 0 avatar
            JD23

            I understand the deleterious effects that an unproductive, highly compensated labor force will have over the long term. In the case of the Detroit Three, labor cost was one of the factors that crowded out R&D spending and led to uncompetitive, poor quality products. However, in the case of Mitsubishi, vehicles assembled outside of UAW facilities are just as unsuccessful as those assembled in Normal.

            I work in a non-union technology industry and have seen a myopic focus on short-term financial results by upper management lead to long-term uncompetitiveness. Instead of being crowded out by labor costs, R&D spending is squeezed by the machinations needed to hit short-term financial targets.

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            Our Ivy League MBA programs are disastrous, but at least a large portion of the people that get them go back to hurt the competitiveness of their home nations. Short term financial goals are bad for business, as I’m sure the academics who taught our business leaders to use them knew from the start.

          • 0 avatar
            JD23

            The religious following that Jensen and Meckling’s Theory of Shareholder Maximization has engendered among the business elite has been one cause for the erosion of the middle class.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            “There’s an amazing correlation between union labor forces in the US and uncompetitive products.”

            Right, uncompetitve products like this one:
            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=totzfPN4hWQ

            Now, who would EVER fly that piece of junk?

            Haters gonna hate

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    I’m surprised they are getting away with this without the State of Illinois or UAW or someone making life difficult for them.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      28, I’m just guessing here but I would not be surprised if there isn’t an awful lot of pressure put on behind the scenes, out of public view.

      The UAW negotiated with them for more time, and the State of IL gave them tax incentives to keep the plant open for 10 years..

      I’m just wondering if Mitsu will pull out of the US market, like Suzuki, or if Mitsu will IMPORT their future products into the US from wherever each vejhicle is currently built.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        “I’m just wondering if Mitsu will pull out of the US market, like Suzuki, or if Mitsu will IMPORT their future products into the US from wherever each vejhicle is currently built.”

        Whichever is cheaper I imagine.

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          The dealer that serviced our two Grand Cherokees this past June is also a Mitsu dealer and they had a number of them in the showroom, and people actually looking at them.

          That said, that dealer also handles Chrysler, Dodge, RAM and Jeep on that same lot with Mitsu, and Chevrolet and Toyota on another lot.

          Still, Mitsu dealers are few and far between in my area, like VW dealers, Audi dealers, Hyundai dealers and Subaru dealers.

        • 0 avatar
          kmars2009

          From what I have read, they are staying and expanding their lineup. All future models will be imported. The Montero and Montero Sport are being considered for future return. The Mirage will gain a sedan stablemate as well. They are currently trying to decide who to joint venture with on a midsize sedan…or possible rebadge of an existing platform from another company…possibly Nissan, but that’s rhumor.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            That’s what I was told by that dealership as well. Mitsu has a small but very loyal following.

            Some of their Mitsu customers have four or five models that they still keep running from decades past, like the Mitsu pickuptruck, the old Montero, etc. I saw a Mitsu truck being worked on while I was there. Odd looking.

            I hope Mitsu stays. Like Subaru, Mitsu makes better stuff that lasts a long, long time.

          • 0 avatar
            Lorenzo

            Never underestimate the power of the dollar/yen exchange rate. When the dollar bought 93 yen, building in America was cheaper. Now that the dollar buys nearly 120 yen, it’s cheaper to build in Japan and import to America.

    • 0 avatar
      mechaman

      The current governor would like to turn Illinois into a right-to-work paradise. So I imagine he doesn’t give a hot damn about UAW workers being on the curb. This is a guy who zapped state funding for autism aid on a day that was set up to bring light on the condition. ALL of the funding.

  • avatar
    kmars2009

    Mitsubishi has been around a very long time. Their survival is not based on the American market. They sell all over the world…as does Suzuki. Suzuki pulled out after GM ruined their street cred with rebadged Daewoos and other GM platforms. All of which has been shuttered, and Suzuki is thriving in other markets…as does Mitsubishi.

  • avatar
    VoGo

    62 comments – almost all of them either attacking the UAW and assembly workers or correcting the misunderstandings and insults in those attacks.

    No one noticed that Mitsubishi hasn’t had a competitive vehicle in the US for over a decade? Assembly labor – good or bad – can only do so much when the product is a mess.

    • 0 avatar

      Misubishi doesn’t care about the US market because they couldn’t compete in it. Furthermore, they don’t need it. Mitsubishi has so many fingers in so many pies that the stress and expense alone of fielding a small and pitiful lineup of uncompetitive also-ran products retailed by dealers who are more excited to switch you into a used Equinox or Rogue where they can actually make money front and back just isn’t worth it anymore.

      If MMNA pulled out tomorrow, not only wouldn’t the market care less, neither would Mitsubishi itself.

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      Mitsu’s main product, the Mirage, is sold globally, and it’s a terrific deal in many parts of the world. It’s only a “mess” by fussy American standards – except that penny-pinching Americans and Canadians are buying it anyway.

  • avatar
    kmars2009

    I was only stating what I have personally seen a Ford worker go through…despite the fact he has only a high school diploma. His IQ is not very high. It puzzles me he makes what he makes. In addition, Honda workers do not make as much. IN MY OPINION, the UAW is only making the American Auto Industry too costly and will force the American companies to manufacture elsewhere…like Mexico. American Autos are of mediocre quality. I don’t see another bailout if they mess up again. BTW it was Obama who saved them…not Bush.
    Also, it’s really great how these manufacturers build factories, make money on a model or two for decades, then leave the factory empty…only to become run down. A blight on the American landscape. Just look at the old FORD and GM factories all over Ohio and Michigan. Disgusting!
    Fortunately, I moved to AZ…I haven’t had to look at any auto factories since. Only testing facilities are here.

    • 0 avatar
      SC5door

      Yet what you don’t understand is the majority of the jobs are not a “piece of cake”. I did it for a number of years; went back and got some more schooling as having your hands, feet and legs numb when you get home is no “cake walk”. You also have to physically train yourself on bathroom schedules—I’ve seen guys running across the plant as they’ve been waiting for someone to cover their job so they can take a leak.

      None of these guys are sitting there complaining about the MILLIONS of dollars someone makes sitting behind a desk all day growing fatter. Every single person employed in this country is doing something for themselves—instead of being able to be thankful that he/she is one less person not standing in the unemployment line YOU’RE complaining that they get paid too and should take away their pay. “Disgusting!”.

  • avatar
    kmars2009

    It’s interesting…the response from people here. Rather than answer and inform, they turn to name calling…or assume I’m arrogant simply because I have a College education. When I give my observation, it is fact, like the guy being dumb as a stump. If you find my observation bothersome, that’s your problem. I came here to state my opinion and observation. It might not be what you like…unfortunately…but it is what it is.
    BTW I never referred to anyone as being LOUSY.

    • 0 avatar
      SC5door

      When your response is this:

      “Whateves…some of us have an education and brains. ”

      How do you think people are going to respond? Also, if you’re going to get all high and mighty with your “PHD Buisness Admin”—try learning that it’s “Business” and “Whateves” is used by teenagers.

      • 0 avatar
        ttiguy

        This clown doesn’t have a “PHD”. If he did, I’m sure he’d know you don’t capatilize the h in “Ph.D.”. He is just a guy spouting off his ignorant, uniformed opinion. At best, he might have an associates or bachelors degree from some third-tier school. Whateves….

        Nobody of any substance would go around telling people how much “smarter” they are than others.

      • 0 avatar
        kmars2009

        Typing on a smartphone is not the best. Whateves!

    • 0 avatar

      People aren’t assuming you’re arrogant because you have a college education. It’s not your supposed college education that makes you arrogant, it’s your personality, your condescending (do you know what that word means?) and superior attitude that makes you arrogant.

      Oh, and since you raised the issue of college, just what elite university did you attend?

      I’ve had the great opportunity to know and work with a few folks who are unquestionably geniuses. To a person, they don’t care if you went to college. They only care if one can reason intelligently, something you have yet to demonstrate here.

      • 0 avatar
        MattPete

        Kmars2009: I have a PhD. Did a post-doc, too. National Academies, yadda yadda. I agree with Ronnie: you’re a condescending ass.

        I admire all skilled workers: the tradesman who fixed my kitchen ceiling (he made it look effortless, and you can’t even tell that there was a bathtub leak), the mechanics fixing my front brakes (again, something I can’t do), my son’s first-grade teacher (I don’t think I could control, let alone educate, a room of 28 6-year-olds!), etc.

        I have a PhD. It says I’m good, in fact, really-really good, at my own narrow area. But it says nothing about my general intelligence. Nor does it says anything about those that do not hold a PhD. I suggest you remember that.

        BTW: the answer, as others have pointed out, is that Mitsubishi makes cars that no one wants. You can’t blame the UAW for that.

        P.S. I’m glad I don’t work in a car factory. It looks like hard work!

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      This guy reminds me of that old FedEx commercial:

      “Educated” Guy: I don’t do shipping… you don’t understand, I have an MBA.
      “Prole” Woman: Oh, you have an MBA? In that case, I’ll have to show you how to do it.

  • avatar
    kmars2009

    Attck me for not using proper punctuation on my smartphone! Boo hoo! Whateves…a current term used by mellenials…even with a higher education.
    I know the workers have medical issues. I know conditions are not ideal to work in. I know certain levels of education are not required. I know it is a trained skill. I know bathroom breaks and lunch breaks are scheduled…even though the body is not a scheduled machine.
    My issue is….why the UAW? Why not a pay scale comparable to Honda.
    As far as it looking easy…if you ever watch footage of people putting Cadillacs together and just pounding a break light in with their hand, well it looks pretty easy.

    • 0 avatar

      “Break light”? Gonna blame that demonstration of your fine intellect on autocorrect?

      • 0 avatar
        kmars2009

        Brake light! There! Christ! Ok…the piece of crap plastic…into the even bigger piece of crap Cadillac. Is that better?
        This is all getting quite boring.
        I’m done here.

        Oberlin College in Ohio, UCLA in California.

        PS. Love the Jewish community.

        Writer…commendable! That’s why you nit pick!

        • 0 avatar

          No, I’m not an English professor, just a professional writer. Anyone paying you to write?

          I know plenty of Jewish doctors and lawyers, including a number of my relatives, but the two smartest Jews that I know are neither physicians nor attorneys. One is a rabbi, the other has a PhD in chemical engineering. The doctors and lawyers that know them generally regard them with respect.

          Speaking of respect. My late uncle was a respected eye surgeon. He respected someone who expertly cut his grass just as much as he respected his medical colleagues for their expertise. I’ve found that most extraordinarily bright people have more respect for the accomplishments of regular folks than you do. They also tend to understand how little they know and they don’t go around bragging how smart they are.

  • avatar
    kmars2009

    Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. I know what I see. Pull up Lorain, Ohio and tell me how wonderful their economy is thanks to the auto industry. You will see what I’m talking about. Ford pulled out and the city died.

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    The UAW problem as I saw it was that back when I started in the industry, the skilled trades folks (who generally were pretty talented) made 4 bucks an hour and the line workers and janitors 2.XX bucks an hour, so a pretty solid bump for the skill level.

    Unfortunately over decades, it evolved to the numbers being about the same numerical gap but minimal percentage difference for the skilled folks. This basically was due to most of the voters for union officers and approving the contract were non-skilled classification.

  • avatar
    SoCalMikester

    sell to china, have lifan build cars there and hire at $8/hr.

    problem solved

  • avatar
    kmars2009

    Mitsubishi will survive. Their products are reliable and built well…at least those made in Japan. Hopefully, they will expand their lineup, as planned, and continue to grow here the American market. The Montero and Montero Sport would certainly help. I’ve seen the new Montero Sport…it looks great, and if it’s like the last one, it will be very durable and reliable.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    What I find most disdainful about threads like this is that it’s always about some silly political fight, and never about the people who will end up out of a job.

    And it’s not just the people at the plant. What about the people in the corporate offices, or the people working at the dealerships? They get boned too. Worse yet, I don’t see how these people caused the demise of the brand. At one point, this was a decently strong brand, but they decided to stop competing in key markets (like midsize and compact sedans), and start making crappy products in the markets left to them. What, the UAW flew to Japan and held the board at gunpoint to make this happen? That certainly makes sense. But some people seem to buy that line of reasoning, less the gunplay, of course.

    These things have real consequences for real people. Some folks on this board might want to remember that. But for God’s grace, it could be any of us on that damn unemployment line tomorrow.


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