TOKYO – Mitsubishi Motors Corp. is keeping quiet about future plans for its Dutch car assembly plant, which needs a project to replace production of its only two models, the Colt minicar and Outlander SUV.
Starting in 2013, the Colt replacement will be made in Thailand and the next-generation Outlander will be produced in Japan. That could signal the end for the 44-year-old NedCar factory, where output sunk to about 50,000 units last year from more than 250,000 units in 1999, according to company data. The plant has capacity to make 200,000 cars on two shifts.
Quizzed about the plant's future at the Tokyo auto show last week, Mitsubishi Executive Vice President Gayu Uesugi told Automotive News Europe: "I can't answer that question. It is a sensitive matter. There are many things we still have to think about."
Uesugi said that production outside Japan was important to the company. "Because of the too-strong yen, profit will be negative if we export just from Japan," he said. "We have to take a holistic view so that's why it's difficult to confirm the timing."
Decision is imminent
In a separate meeting, Mitsubishi Europe CEO Akinori Nakanishi said that a decision was imminent. "We have promised unions we will get back to them early next year," he said.
Lance Bradley, managing director of UK Mitsubishi importer Colt Car Company, said the cost savings from building cars in the Netherlands compared with Japan were not so different.