Two months after warning that it might shutter its only U.S. assembly plant, Mitsubishi Motors Corp. is expected to notify workers formally this week of the closure of the 27-year-old factory in Normal, Ill., which still hasn't attracted a buyer.
Plagued by slow demand, the factory built just 69,178 units of the Outlander Sport crossover last year. With a freshened version of the crossover slated to debut for the 2016 model year this fall, Mitsubishi announced plans in July to start exporting the Outlander Sport from Japan.
In recent meetings, Mitsubishi has told workers that the plant will shut down on Nov. 30 if no buyer is found, Kyle Young, vice president of UAW Local 2488, said in an interview.
Under the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, larger companies must provide 60 days' notice before a plant closure, so Mitsubishi would need to notify employees by Oct. 1.
In a Sept. 19 report, Japan's Nikkei newswire reported that Mitsubishi was preparing to deliver such a notice by the end of the month.
In their search for a buyer, Illinois' economic development officials are touting the relative youth of the plant, which was built in 1988 in partnership with Chrysler. Mitsubishi also spent $45 million on plant improvements in 2011 and 2012 to build the Outlander Sport.
"Everyone right now is focused, first and foremost, on finding a buyer," Mitsubishi spokesman Dan Irvin said in an interview. "Those efforts continue."