February 22, 2005

Mitsubishi won’t pull out of North America

Tokyo, Japan – Japanese automaker Mitsubishi Motors Corporation said that it has no plans to leave the North American market, in contrast to a Wall Street Journal report that it was seeking a buyer for its American operations. The Journal reported in its Asian weekend edition that Mitsubishi Motors’ president Osamu Masuko had met with several industry executives during a trip coinciding with the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January.

The report said that the talks focused on the sale of Mitsubishi’s Illinois plant and its North American sales unit in California.

“The article in the Wall Street Journal stating that MMC is seeking a buyer for its operations in the U.S. is groundless,” the company said in a statement issued Friday. “We have absolutely no plan or desire to withdraw from the North American market.”

Following Masuko’s trip to Detroit, Mitsubishi outlined a new revival plan, focused on leadership by three Mitsubishi group companies and which removed Phoenix Capital from the core rehabilitation team. At a news conference in Detroit, Masuko announced plans to export the Galant sedan from the Illinois plant, in a move aimed at filling unused capacity to cut losses.

Last year, Mitsubishi’s U.S. sales plunged 37 per cent to 161,600 units, its lowest in 15 years and less than half of what it sold two years prior.

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