TOKYO -- Mitsubishi Motors Corp said Monday that it will spend $200 million to expand the capacity of its plant in Normal, Ill., by 25 percent to allow it to make 300,000 units a year.
The expansion, due to be completed in late 2004, is expected to create about 300 jobs, the company said.
"Our goal is to produce more vehicles in the markets where they are sold," President Rolf Eckrodt said in a statement.
The automaker, owned 37 percent by DaimlerChrysler AG, said it was still looking for more ways to boost capacity in North America, such as by using available production facilities at a DaimlerChrysler plant, expanding the Illinois plant, or building a plant.
A decision will be made by mid-year, it said.
The expansion plan had been expected after Eckrodt said in late January that Mitsubishi Motors would make a decision on North American expansion plans within a "few weeks."
Eckrodt had indicated at the time that Mitsubishi could sell shares in Hyundai Motor Co. of South Korea, among other options, to fund the planned expansion.
At the weekend, South Korean auto parts maker Hyundai Mobis said it was buying a 1.7 percent stake in Hyundai Motor from Mitsubishi Motors.
Armed with several all-new models including the Endeavor crossover SUV and the Galant mid-sized sedan, Mitsubishi Motors is aiming to extend its four-year run of record sales in the profitable U.S. market.
Among Japan's top automakers, Mitsubishi was the best performer in the United States last year, with sales volume rising seven percent to 345,000 units.
Mitsubishi said it would aim to further expand sales in the United States, Canada, Mexico and Puerto Rica.