As part of Mitsubishi Motors Corp.’s plan to eventually double the output of the plant in Normal, Illinois, and make it into an export hub, it has started to produce the Outlander Sport compact sport utility vehicle there. In a statement, Mitsubishi said that it hopes to increase the plant’s output by 60% to 50,000 vehicles in the first year, compared to the 31,000 built in 2011.
Mitsubishi’s spokesman said that the global Outlander Sport model joined the Galant, Endeavor and other vehicles built particularly for North America. The company said that about 50% of the plant's total output would be exported to markets like Russia, Latin America and the Middle East. The automaker said that the 2013 Outlander will arrive in U.S. dealerships in early August.
Mitsubishi Motors predicts that annual production will later increase to 70,000 vehicles, or 100% of capacity, using the present work force of the plant. When the Illinois plant was at its peak, it had the capacity to produce 200,000 vehicles a year on two lines. Mitsubishi Motors’ sales in developed markets had been falling. Just last week, it revealed that it is selling its NedCar factory in the Netherlands to VDL Group, a local bus maker, for only 1 euro.