SHANGHAI – Mitsubishi Motor Corp., one of the few Japanese automakers yet to suspend U.S. output following the earthquake in Japan, may halt production at its only U.S. assembly plant for up to 10 days because of parts shortages from Japan, the company's president warned.
Disruptions to the automaker's supply chain hasn't delayed plans to begin production of the Outlander Sport small SUV at the Normal, Ill., plant next summer, President Osamu Masuko said.
"We are preparing for the production of the Outlander Sport and that is proceeding on schedule," Masuko said at the Shanghai auto show. "It won't be postponed."
"It's the cars that we are making there now, like the Galant, where we're walking on a tightrope," Masuko said, adding that a shutdown of up to 10 days might be needed.
"It could be a week or 10 days," Masuko said. "But we're trying to avoid that."
The Normal factory currently builds the Eclipse coupe, Eclipse Spyder convertible, Endeavor crossover and Galant sedan. It has continued operating even as rival Japanese automakers slow output or schedule downtime to preserve components.
"Although some of MMC's models produced abroad remain limited by parts availability, the impact on MMC's overseas production is not significant," a company spokesman said after Masuko's remarks. "Moving forward, MMC forecasts normal operation at its plants outside of Japan, however in the future there remains a possibility that some overseas
production may be stopped for one week to ten days."
Toyota and Honda are among the Japanese brands cutting U.S. production amid a shortage of parts from suppliers in Japan hammered by the March 11 earthquake.
Like all Japanese automakers, Mitsubishi had to close its Japanese plants after the disaster. But those plants are now running at limited output.While auto plants in Japan are coming back online after a month of shutdowns, the hangover of parts shortages is just beginning to be felt at plants in North America, as shipments of new parts run dry and inventories of pre-quake parts run low.