TOKYO (Reuters) -- Mitsubishi Motors Corp. plans to double production at its automobile plant in Illinois to 70,000 vehicles per year, Japanese business daily Nikkei reported.
The company's U.S. subsidiary, Mitsubishi Motors North America, will stop making vehicles exclusively for the North American market and instead focus on assembling and exporting the Outlander Sport SUV this summer, Nikkei said.
Mitsubishi's plant in Normal, Ill., currently builds the Galant mid-sized sedan, which is expected to end some time before Outlander output starts up this summer.
Mitsubishi sees Latin America, Russia and other regions -- where exports can be denominated in dollars -- as primary destinations for the SUV, the daily said.
The company's plan to start making the compact SUV at the Illinois plant is a move to boost capacity, which has taken a hit due to sluggish sales, Nikkei wrote.
With the automobile market shifting to developing countries, Mitsubishi's factories in emerging countries such as Thailand are at full capacity, while the pace of production has slowed at plants in the United States and Europe, the daily said.
In February, the company decided to wind down European production at the end of 2012, Nikkei said.
Mitsubishi's U.S. sales increased 42 percent last year to 79,020 units, but have dropped 25 percent this year through February to 9,447, while the overall U.S. light-vehicle market has advanced 14 percent.