Mitsubishi became the latest automaker to export from the United States, decades after being one of the first to build cars here. Its unionized “Diamond-Star” plant in Illinois, once co-owned with Chrysler Corporation, will make around 19,000 Outland Sports for export outside North America.
As Mitsubishi’s fortunes in the United States have fallen, the Diamond Star plant has endured production cuts; once capable of making 200,000 cars per year, last year the factory pushed out a mere 31,000 cars, despite the addition of the Galant to the product mix (it originally made only the Eclipse and Chrysler-branded versions of the sporty, Galant-based car).
Mitsubishi’s press release reported that the company planned to eventually export half the cars produced in Illinois to Russia, Latin America, the Middle East, and other markets. Currently, the plant makes North American versions of the Galant, Eclipse, and Outlander, all of which are closely related. The last Chrysler-branded cars produced there were the Chrysler Sebring Coupe and two-door Dodge Avenger, both restyled versions of the Eclipse; neither sold well in their final years.
As manufacturing costs in Japan have increased and those in the United States have fallen, largely due to exchange rates, companies have been either “re-insourcing” production to the U.S. or making cars here for export to other locations, rather than making them in Japan.