Business
3:12 pm
Tue July 17, 2012

Mitsubishi launches Outlander production in Illinois

Mitsubishi's top selling vehicle is now made in Illinois. The Japanese automaker has shifted production of the Outlander Sport to its only U.S. production facility in Normal.

Gov. Pat Quinn, who attended the ceremony launching the Japanese automaker's latest U.S. product, touted the sporty crossover SUV during remarks to 1,200 plant workers, company executives, and other officials.

"It's fuel efficient and it's made in America and made in Illinois,” he said. “That means a lot to me, and I think to everybody in our state, that your skill has crafted this vehicle that not only will supply the automotive needs of our country but also the export possibilities."

Half of the 50,000 Outlanders built annually in Normal will be sent overseas, with the other half kept for U.S. sales.

The governor launched a tax credit program a year and a half ago, based on economic development and job creation, to help keep the plant open. Mitsubishi funneled $45 million into retooling the facility in Normal. U.S. sales of the Outlander are up 13% compared to a year ago, although Mitsubishi has only a tiny sliver of the American import auto market.

Mitsubishi says Outlander Sports will be exported to Canada, Central and South America, Russia, the Persian Gulf and other areas.

"We wanna make great things that the world has a demand for,” Quinn said, “and I think it's so important that Illinois as a state made an investment in this particular enterprise, almost $30 million."

Mitsubishi announced 15 months ago it would maintain production at the plant in Normal. The company spent much of the last year retooling the plant. The new Outlander Sport will begin shipping to dealerships in the U.S. beginning early next month.

Mitsubishi’s expansion in Illinois follows Chrysler’s growth from 200 jobs in 2009 to more than 4,000 jobs this summer and Ford’s addition of a third shift of workers in Chicago.