Mitsubishi buys defunct Ford plant in Philippines to fuel Asia growth

TOKYO -- Mitsubishi Motors Corp. has bought a defunct assembly plant from Ford Motor Co. in the Philippines as part of its push to expand sales in booming Southeast Asia.

Mitsubishi aims to start production at the factory in Laguna in 2015. Ford ended production at the site in December 2012.

The plant will have initial capacity of 50,000 units a year and expand to 100,000. It will make the Adventure, a compact crossover van for emerging markets, as well as the L300 van.

Laguna will be Mitsubishi’s second factory in the Philippines, following one in Cainta with annual capacity of 30,000 units.

The expansion aims to underpin Mitsubishi’s strength in Southeast Asia, which is a key pillar of its mid-term business plan. Mitsubishi is the No. 2 brand in the Philippines, behind Toyota, with a local market share of 21 percent.

Mitsubishi says the Philippines, with the second largest population in Southeast Asia after Indonesia, has great potential because motorization is just about to take off.

Mitsubishi declined to say how much it paid for the plant.

But a spokeswoman denied as incorrect a report by Japan’s Nikkei business daily that put the price tag between 10 billion and 15 billion yen ($97.3 million and $145.9 million).

You can reach Hans Greimel at -- Follow Hans on Twitter: @hansgreimel