Chrysler Corp. and Mitsubishi Motors Corp. formally open the Diamond-Star Motors Corp. plant in Normal, Ill., on Nov. 10, 1988.
The $500 million venture initially produced Plymouth Laser and Mitsubishi Eclipse 2+2 coupes that were co-designed by the companies off the same platform, followed by the Eagle Summit and Mitsubishi Mirage compact sedans (1991 models), and the four-wheel-drive Eagle Talon coupe.
Chrysler’s ties to Mitsubishi began in 1971 when the U.S. automaker took a 15 percent stake in the Japanese automaker and began importing and selling Mitsubishi-built vehicles in the U.S. under the Chrysler, Dodge and Plymouth brands.
The smaller cars, such as the Dodge Colt, helped Chrysler meet growing consumer demand for fuel-efficient vehicles and fill a gap at the bottom of Chrysler’s product lineup.
Chrysler sold its 50 percent stake in the Illinois plant in 1991. In October 1995, the factory produced its 1 millionth vehicle, the first Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder convertible.
Over the years, the plant also produced the Dodge Stratus, Chrysler Sebring and Dodge Avenger coupes, midsize Mitsubishi Galant sedan and the Mitsubishi Endeavor and Outlander Sport crossovers. With the launch of the Endeavor in January 2003, Mitsubishi was mass producing six models on one assembly line.
Mitsubishi disclosed plans in July to end output of the Outlander Sport at the plant, and either sell or close the factory.