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Mitsubishi to end its 27-year production run in the U.S. next month, will focus on Asian market

Mitsubishi has announced it will end all vehicle production in the U.S.

The Japanese automaker’s Normal, Illinois, assembly plant was opened in 1988 through a joint effort with Chrysler. During a period in the early 2000s, the facility produced 200,000 vehicles per year, but last year the plant only churned out 64,000 vehicles.

One of Japan’s lesser automakers, Mitsubishi has decided not to renew its union contract and is seeking a buyer for its sole North American factory. Mitsubishi was clear that it would still sell models in the U.S. but that it will focus its efforts on its biggest market in Southeast Asia.

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“Following a review of Mitsubishi Motor Corporation’s global supply chain, we have been informed it is necessary to end production and seek a strategic buyer for the Normal plant,” the company’s U.S. subsidiary said in an emailed statement. “MMC’s board will make a formal decision in the near future, and our focus right now is to identify a buyer who would continue to operate and maintain employment.”

Mitsubishi will begin negotiations with labor representatives to continue employment for the factory’s 918 workers, who are represented by the UAW. On its website, Mitsubishi said the Normal factory contributes $120 million a year to the local economy in taxes, salaries, and benefits.

The Japanese automaker isn’t the only one recently to pull production from the states. Ford Motor Company is abandoning small-car output in Michigan, saying it will move production of the Focus and C-Max small cars to another country due to the low-margin earnings from using U.S. labor.

Mitsubishi will end production of its Outlander Sport next month.