Mitsubishi Doomsday Clock – When Do We Start Counting? UPDATE: Right Now.

UPDATE: Mitsubishi has officially announced they will close the Normal, Ill. plant and are looking for a “strategic buyer.” This article was originally written a couple of hours before the announcement. Our Mitsubishi Doomsday Countdown starts right now, putting Mitsubishi’s Best-Before Date at Tuesday, January 16, 2018.
When Suzuki decided to stop building their last self-produced model in North America, the seven-seater XL7, in the midst of the U.S. economic crisis, it was just another nail in the coffin for that looked to be inevitable — the end of Suzuki sales in North America.
The CAMI plant in Ingersoll, Ontario, Canada — a plant that still cranks out GM products to this day — was an integral part of Suzuki’s success and ultimate demise. Much like the Normal, Illinois Mitsubishi facility, the CAMI plant started as a joint venture between General Motors and its new Japanese BFF.

General Motors, like Chrysler, wanted to leverage product from Japanese automakers. Chrysler went after sports cars while GM affixed the badges of many brands — Chevrolet, GMC, Pontiac, Geo, Passport and Asuna — to the grilles of Sidekicks and Swifts to sell on the lots of its own dealers.
The CAMI plant gave Suzuki a local presence. People bought the Sidekick and its GM-badged brethren in droves — right up until the point they didn’t.
Suzuki, too little and too late, cut its ties with CAMI on May 12, 2009. However, the Normal story is a fair bit different, as it wasn’t Mitsubishi to pull out of the joint venture. In 1991, Chrysler divested part of its share in the joint venture and plant, giving Mitsubishi overall management control. Two years later, Chrysler would sell the remainder of Diamond-Star Motors to Mitsubishi, effectively ending the formal joint-venture partnership. DSM ceased to exist in 1995 when the joint-venture company was renamed Mitsubishi Motor Manufacturing of America.
For Suzuki, it took 907 days after the end of manufacturing before the company packed it in for good in the U.S.
During the economic crisis, I was one of the many who also predicted the end of Mitsubishi in America.
Today, I’m not so sure.
Mitsubishi is making gains in sales, even if those gains are mostly on low-margin products. Also, there is a fair amount of new product on the horizon if the rumor mill is to be believed, and it could prop up the small Japanese automaker long enough to sort out its issues before the next inevitable recession.
Will Mitsubishi meet the same fate as Suzuki? Are we in for a 907-day wait before its ultimate end? We will see. If/when Mitsubishi makes a formal announcement on the future of Normal, we will start the clock.
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