Mitsubishi moves to outsourcing

TOKYO - Mitsubishi Motors Corp. will outsource production of most of the components it makes at its Oye plant by April 2003.

The sale of its component production "will enable the company to focus more on its core business and reduce production costs," said Mitsubishi CEO Takashi Sonobe.

Mitsubishi will halt car production at Oye this month, although it will continue building small buses there.

Two steps in the outsourcing of Oye component production will take place in November.

First, differential and front-wheel-drive transfer components for cars such as the Galant and Lancer will be shifted to Tochigi Fuji Industrial Co.

Tochigi Fuji will continue production within Mitsubishi's Oye plant, and about 270 Mitsubishi employees will be trans-ferred to Tochigi Fuji.

Tochigi Fuji, which is 20.4 percent owned by Nissan Motor Co., formerly sold 50 percent of its output to the Nissan group.

Next, rear-wheel-drive transfer components for sport-utilities such as the Pajero and Challenger, will be shifted to Aisin AI Co., a unit of Aisin Seiki Co., and to Arakawa Industry Co.

In the United States, the Pajero is known as the Montero and the Challenger is known as the Montero Sport.

About 120 Mitsubishi employees will be transferred to those two companies' plants in Aichi Prefecture, in central Japan near Nagoya.

Toyota Motor Corp. owns 24.5 percent of Aisin Seiki.

Initially, the transferred workers will remain Mitsubishi employees while talks continue on the details of shifting their work to the other companies.

You can reach James B. Treece at jtreece@crain.com

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