Mitsubishi Motors Corp.'s operations in North America may achieve breakeven this year, the first time since March 31, 2007, President Osamu Masuko told Automotive News in an interview at the Tokyo Motor Show. In 2007, the carmaker was only able to post a very small profit of ¥600 million ($6.37 million). North America has been exhausting Mitsubishi's finances, partly due to its high-cost, low-output Normal assembly plant in Illinois.
However, increased local site production and favorable exchange rates are helping the carmaker cut the losses rapidly. He said that while they have announced that Mitsubishi will break even in the next fiscal year, they might achieve that this year if "things keep going well."
In October, Mitsubishi said during the fiscal second-quarter earnings announcement that it expects its regional operating loss in North America to shrink significantly to ¥4 billion ($40.7 million) in the fiscal year ending March 31, 2014, from $203.6 million in losses in the fiscal year ended March 31, 2013.
According to Masuko, Mitsubishi has trimmed output capacity at its Normal site to 70,000 units annually and ramped up its output much closer to full capacity. The site builds the Outlander Sport compact crossover for the United States and export markets like Russia, the Middle East and Latin America. The plant built 56,630 vehicles in the first 10 months of 2013, from 27,339 units in the same period in 2012.
Of that, 20,150 Outlander Sports were sold in the US in the first 10 months of 2013. Masuko remarked that he is seeking for ways to hike output in the plant, adding that its production could be raised to 100,000 units annually if overseas demand surges. Mitsubishi expects its sales in the US to surge 23 percent to 70,000 units in the current fiscal year ending March 31, 2014.