Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (MMC) has announced it will start producing the Outlander Sport compact crossover utility vehicle at its Normal, Illinois, assembly plant beginning in mid-2012. The decision came as a follow-up to MMC's recently unveiled rationalization plan, which calls for the Eclipse, Endeavor and Galant cease their current U.S. build by 2014. They'll be effectively replaced by the Outlander Sport, which went on sale here last November. Mitsubishi plans to invest $100 million to revamp the facility to accommodate the new model.
President Kurihara, president of Mitsubishi Motors North America noted that relocating production of the now-Japan-sourced Outlander Sport to the Normal plant reinforces MMC's intent to remain and to grow its position in the U.S. market. "Mitsubishi Motors remains fully committed to producing vehicles in Normal. We will build vehicles here not just for the United States, but for many nations around the world. With the new model, the plant will have better utilization, and, of course we will see improved efficiency when we eventually consolidate to one model with higher production volume. I fully expect this plant will strongly improve its performance further down the road". Kurihara also anticipates that about half of the Outlander Sport production will be exported.
Mitsubishi previously announced that at some point, Normal is expected to become a source point for its new and yet-unnamed "Global Small Car" model, which will make its debut in concept form at the upcoming Geneva Auto Show and also be assembled here for the American and various international markets alongside the Outlander Sport. While not referenced in the press release, the fact that the Outlander Sport also shares basic platform architecture with the Outlander SUV and Lancer sedan opens up at least the possibility that some of their production also could be transferred to the Illinois plant, should market and/or currency conditions dictate.