TOKYO -- Japan's Mitsubishi Motors Corp. said on Tuesday it has nearly finished a planned reduction of North American parts suppliers as its U.S. plant nears the end of a contract to build two Chrysler models.
Mitsubishi's U.S. plant in Normal, Ill., decided two years ago to slash the number of suppliers in North America to 150 from 260 by the end of April 2005, when it stops building the Sebring sedan and Dodge Stratus coupe for DaimlerChrysler AG.
The Sebring and Stratus share a platform with Mitsubishi's Eclipse sports car model, which will be replaced in June 2005 by a remodeled version that will use a new platform developed in January 2003.
The Illinois plant will then have three Mitsubishi vehicles -- the Galant sedan, Endeavor sport-utility vehicle and the new Eclipse -- all under a common platform, enabling it to cut costs by procuring more parts from fewer suppliers.
"We're near the end of the reduction plan," a spokeswoman for Mitsubishi's North American office said, adding that a report on the plan in Japanese daily Nihon Keizai Shimbun on Tuesday was "not news."
Mitsubishi, Japan's only unprofitable car maker, is under pressure to come up with bigger restructuring and cost-cutting projects as its sales plunge in the main Japanese and U.S. markets, hurt by a vehicle defect cover up scandal and an ailing brand.
The automaker, owned 20.7 percent by DaimlerChrysler, is set to unveil more steps to ensure its future in mid-December, including ways to fill unused output capacity around the world.
Mitsubishi last week reported a net loss of 146.16 billion yen ($1.39 billion) for the April-September first half versus a loss of 80.22 billion yen in the same period last year and widened its full-year loss forecast by 10 billion yen to 240 billion yen.
The company also lowered its forecast for global retail sales for the year to March 2005 to 1.357 million units from the 1.45 million projected in May.