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by Matt Brogan

Update: Mitsubishi to end local manufacturing by March

Mitsubishi again appears to be on the brink of closing its Adelaide manufacturing plant as the 380 sales slump continues.

Federal Government representatives saying last night the Tonsley Park plant’s future would be discussed at a board meeting of Mitsubishi in Japan today. Company officials were earlier quoted as saying the company would announce the closure of the Adelaide factory after the board meeting.

In addition to more than one thousand employees being directly effected, several hundred manufacturing jobs at subsidiary car parts factories around Australia could also be under threat if the plant closes.

Mitsubishi LogoAfter years of struggling for viability, the company took a gamble in with the launch of the 380 sedan three years ago, and has faced slipping sales ever since.

South Australian Premier Mike Rann yesterday lobbied the Japanese car maker to think about its Australian workers’ future but admitted the decision will be made solely on the commercial viability of local manufacturing.

“I’ve been assured by senior Mitsubishi management today that there is nothing additional that either the Australian or the South Australian government can do to influence tomorrow’s decision.” said Mr Rann

Mr Rann yesterday called Mitsubishi’s global president, Osamu Masuko, to warn him that Australia would regard the plant’s closure as a breach of an earlier agreement to keep it operating until 2010.

One publication has already reported that three Mitsubishi executives had told it the Adelaide plant would be closed due to poor sales of the locally built Mitsubishi 380 sedan.

It now appears to be a case of when and not if, there is still a possibility of the plant staying open until its 2010 deadline. It’s expected that production would shift to Russia and China.

The meeting which is scheduled in Tokyo today will be monitored closely by CarAdvice and we’ll bring you any developments as they arise.