Mitsubishi to stop Australian car production

Mitsubishi Motors Australia has announced that it will be shuttering its Adelaide factory at the end of March. The company will, however, continue to import cars.

Mitsubishi Motors Australia has announced that it will be shuttering its Adelaide factory at the end of March. The company will, however, continue to import cars.

The 380 (top) produced at Mitsubishi's Tonsley Park plant (bottom)

The decision to close the manufacturing plant means that the large Mitsubishi 380s in the market now will soon be collector's items. The 380 is currently the only car that Mitsubishi produces locally and so the only model effected by this announcement.

In a statement to the press and posted on the company's Web site, Mitsubishi Motors Australia CEO Robert McEniry stated that the decision to cease local manufacturing operations was based on "changing consumer behaviours and buying patterns" in the Australian market. Large car sales have decreased in recent years, even as the Australian appetite for new cars has grown -- according to industry statistician, VFACTS, last year saw a record one million new cars sold in this country.

Based heavily on the U.S.-market Galant, the 380 began local production in 2005. Although it picked up several industry awards, it never quite achieved its sales targets, though the company fought to stay afloat by launching refreshes and scaling back production several times. In its statement to the press, Mitsubishi has extended the warranty for "past and future private buyers" of the 380 from five to six years.

According to McEniry, around 930 Mitsubishi employees will lose their jobs through this decision. He stressed that their full entitlements and termination payouts will be "totally funded and protected". David Purchase, Excutive Director of the Victorian Automotive Chamber of Commerce, says that "there will inevitably be a serious knock-on effect that will extend to parts and component suppliers ... feeding [Mitsubishi's] plant".

Mitsubishi Australia will also repay some of the grants it has received from State and Federal governments in recent years, specifically the AU$35 million it received from the South Australian government to help develop the 380.

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