|The Mitsubishi Eclipse sports car|
Like Subaru, Mitsubishi entered car manufacturing in the US in 1989, and likewise did it making cars for someone else as well to get sufficient volume. In Mitsubishi's case, it was with Chrysler US, a company that it had financial links with.
Going back a few years, in the early 1980's Mitsubishi commenced selling cars in the US under its brand name. Then both Mitsubishi and Chrysler agreed to form a 50/50 joint venture to manufacture cars in the US, to get around import limits on Japanese cars. Initially the Mitsubishi Eclipse sports car was made at the plant at Normal, Illinois along with two rebadged Chrysler models of the same car.
A brief run of the Mirage was soon switched to the Galant, which provided better volumes. With Chrysler production - averaging over 60,000 units p.a. from 1989 to 1999 - along with Mitsubishi cars had the plant fairly well utilised.
However, in the 2000's, Chrysler production was falling at the joint venture plant and was ended by 2004. This coincided with a fall in Mitsubishi production, despite the introduction of the Endeavor SUV which wasn't very successful. The Raider pick-up was made for Mitsubishi so wasn't produced at the Normal plant, not that its paltry numbers would have helped.
In recent times, car production was phased out and the Outlander SUV did quite well when it replaced the under performing Endeavor in 2012. Despite that, it was decided to end production in 2015. Unless the Normal plant was to be used for large scale exporting, the maths didn't add up in making cars for local consumption.
The reason Subaru was able to go it alone while Mitsubishi wasn't is down to domestic popularity. In 2016 Subaru sold 615,000 vehicles in the US, to Mitsubishi's 96,000. It was therefore the right decision, that brought to an end 27 years of production in the US.
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