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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.

  • John S

    it will be a sad day for australian manufacturing if this does happen. what mitsu oz needs to do is position itself like holden and ford and become engineering and design hubs for asia pacific, if not the world…and what about making engines here in oz and exporting them to japan and other plants.

    ford was given a lifeline by the fed govt…so why doesn’t rudd and his blundering labour party do the same…i mean since they always pledge to help working families.

  • Dan

    It is a shame that after all the Mitsubishi workforce have been through in SA that this article does not even depict an Australian built 380, instead the US 2009 Galant is shown.

    The product built in the SA factory has always been better built than the opposition with less recalls than other local makers that have recently recalled 86,000 V6 powered vehicles after previously recalling all their V8 powered vehicles in the same series for a similar fault.

    It would be good if the Australian motoring public opened their eyes to see what else is on offer away from the Commodore and Falcon product.

  • Peter

    Will be a grim day for MMAL workers; hope they are compensated in some way for their loyalties to the company. They have done wonders transforming the Galant into the 380, and it’s sad that they haven’t sold more of their car.

    I wonder how this will affect their sales, especially of imported models… I mean, the general public not into cars will think – ‘OMG Mitsu is NO more!!!!’

  • http://www.caradvice.com.au/ alborz

    Thats a good point Peter,
    Mitsubishi has been doing relatively well with the import models the last few months, especially the new lancer, it would be interesting to see how this would affect the company as a whole.

  • Adam (aka Mada)

    John S…

    ALL local manufacturers have been given lifeline over the last 5 years, including Mit.

    People seem to forget that all large locally assembled models have lost ground.
    The VE commodore is the best commodore ever manufactured and the same will be said of Fords upcoming orion falcon but take a look back to 1997 when the VT was one of the biggest selling commodores and you will find volume far above the current VE.
    Buying patterns are changing and it’s not all down to fuel consumption or pricing.

  • Adam (aka Mada)

    It is sad news as the 380 is not a bad vehicle at all deserves better volume, i’d prefer to drive a 380 over an aurion.

  • Casey

    The 380 is a great package mechanically, it is let down by out-dated styling and its forebarer’s reputation – people have LONG memories, Magna still does not bode well with many.

    It’s a great shame for Aussie manufacturing but in the end, MMAL have had this coming for a while. Too many poor decisions made over an extended time frame – they’ve nailed shut their own coffin.

  • John S

    if ford has struck a deal to build the focus here…i dont see why mitsub cant lobby to do the same with the new lancer…but yeah the 380 is truely in dire need of an update.

  • John S

    and adam aka madda…yes i do see your point…

    ve commodore was selling like hotcakes…but the number of sales awards it won was comparable to the number of recalls it got! i think by record the commodore is now the most recalled car in australian car history…and still people buy it…

    when was the last mistubishi recall?

  • Peter

    I don’t think the styling is outdated, but it’s just not to the tastes of the Australian market – It looks too bland, and like a big blob. However, the GT model is a rather handsome for a large family car. The other new large family cars since the 380’s release (VE, Aurion) all have rather bold styling.

  • Adam (aka Mada)

    VT had almost double the amount of recalls compared to AU falcon yet VT sold in record numbers next to the iconic kingswood.
    Styling was the AUs issue alone.
    VE has had only minor recalls.
    The changing market for salary sacrifice company cars, more choice of vehicles in the new car market, geberal buyer tastes and percieved fuel consumption levels of falcon and commodore have affected recent sales.
    I’m not sure when Mit had a recall, remember they don’t have a steller reputation yet have a better factory warranty than Toyota, Ford and Holden.
    Reputation also sells new cars.

  • Bret

    John S.
    Mits has already been handed more Govt assistance than all the others, when they last threatened to close Tonley Pk, but they ALL get it. (Yes Toyota too!!!)
    Media Mike (Rann) has already said that the SA Govt will seek repayment of the $35 Million if manufacturing ceases before 2010.
    Personally I think it is the workers who suffer most.
    And BTW pitty anyone NOT currently employed by Mitsu getting a job either. The last time they put workers off, companies got told that they HAD to employ ex-mitsu staff, meaning other people got told “sorry, your the one we want to employ, but the SA Govt have told us we have to employ ex-mitsu workers…….”

  • Alex

    The 380 is not that bad a car, it’s a little out of date and the competitors are a little better though. However, I’ll have to agree with you Casey, the 380’s biggest down fall is its predecessor. People do have long memories and when a consumer gets stuck with a car they virtually can’t give away, they learn a lesson.

    As for all the doom and gloom for the Australian motor industry. There’s one thing we should all keep in mind, back during the last oil crisis Australia built big cars. The two major players took very different paths. Ford decided on a large car and worked on weigh reduction and Holden decided on a smaller one. We all know how this turned out, the Commodore nearly sent Holden to the wall and the Falcon went on to some of the best sales figures it has ever had. Consumers are suffering from petrol price shock, when it calms down, which it inevitably will, things will go back to normal.

  • Carl

    According to John s it’s al Kevin Rudds fault!!! if you were less one eyed you would have heard that the federal government offered help and Mitsubishi Japan said NO thanks!

    You lose all credibillity when you use a car forum to push your political barrow…. please stay relevant and keep your sour grapes to your self after all Mr John Howard wasn’t perfect….far from it!!!

  • Iamthestig

    The 380 may be a reasonable car to drive but you wouldn\’t want to actually own one due to poor resale (now bound to be even worse if they stop making them !)

    When it was new, it was still a outdated, ugly car, out of times with what the public wanted, had inferior technology and was WAY overpriced (don’t forget the massive price reductions) Remember that it still doesn’t have ESP even now !

    Sad that production will be finishing but it is all to do with the product choice – nothing less…

  • Les

    I think the 380 is a very well built car .. definitely better than commodore or falcon.. Toyota is good as well but is not much of a drivers car in comparison to the 380.. If the 380 GT was a standard model ( at least in looks) I believe it would have sold well. however it might be too late.. It does need a redesign.. something as bold as the lancer.. Its made from the same company yet sells very very well.. So design as we know these days has alot to do with good sales for car makers.. If mitsubishi does leave, maybe Nissan might make a return.. I do recall Carl Ghosn was a bit keen on Australia not too long ago when they was talk of the closure in Adelaide. .. It might do Mitsubishi good to consolidate now and recoup the losses and get back to good design.. still make the 380 but elsewhere but then get Nissan into Australia who I know can really challenge the big local 3… Carlos does seem to have a winnning formula… except for yes the darn Tiida!

  • http://www.caradvice.com.au Anthony

    Adam, I’m with you. When I produced Drive TV with Fairfax, we all liked the 380 but others didn’t!

  • John S

    thanks carl for your pearls of wisdom…you are such a jedi in this forum right?

    anyway seriously why doesn’t mitsu pimp up the 380? i mean the ralliart attempt was poor compared to the lancer of old…why cant mitsu make their evo range like fpv and hsv and totally pimp up all the cars…like toyotas trd range…that could lift sales and hopefully save jobs.

  • Carl

    The fact that you abuse everyone that you don’t agree with say’s more about YOU than my HUMBLE opinions on this forum could ever say!!!

    No need to get abusive or sarcastic just because you think you are superior to anyone who thinks differently to you….have a nice day SIR!

  • BK

    Looks like we all gonna have to move to China where all the jobs are happening. There saying that China is creating up to 10,000 jobs a day and people who live in villages and farms over there are moving into the city area cause they can now get a job and make 1 dollar a day for themselves. Our skills and knowledge is being sent over there to train them and we are now waiting for the poverty to hit us here. It must be Australias turn now to be a poor nation and China to be wealthy. The Chinese are really outsmarting us all now.

  • http://aca Bilstein

    Mitsubishi’s mistake was that it decided to produce a single type of car (380) to challenge a single segment (large car)in a single yet relatively small market of Australia.

    If Mitsubishi were smart, they would have followed a similar angle as Toyota have (Camry/Aurion)by providing 2 versions of a single platform to tackle two different segments supported by a healthy export programme.

    Basically, Mitsubishi should have provided the market with a competant 4 cyl version as well as a larger 6 cyl capacity car hence widening it’s market diversity.

    Unfortunately, Mitsubishi will close because of thier own silly decisions. Dreams how bosses want thier company to be compared to market reality are often two different worlds.

  • tonyn

    i think your wrong! i think the media shold feel really bad about this as it has been them that have caused it. The 380 is one of the best large cars around, but because of the beat up about them closing down they now look like they are.

    And the media are doing the same with the falcon now…. shame media, shame!

  • Casey

    Tonyn – The media does nothing more than report on the facts at hand – simple.

    The cold hard fact of this situatoin is that whilst the 380 may indeed be a good car in its own right (as CarAdvice reviews attest to) the company’s idiotic decision to rely solely on that car to support itself is one of the most incompetent management decisions ever made in this country that has done little more than tarnish their reputation even further.

    You simply cannot hope to support yourself based on the strength of a single product – eggs in one basket! Rule one of diversification.

    Wake up to yourself mate, there’s a far bigger picture here than the narrow vista you’re trying to paint.


    Great car, crap looks. When it’s all boiled down, for most buyers the main questions will be how much will it cost me and how does it look.
    Tonyn – No arguments from me that it is a sound car, but not everyone is as car savvy as a lot of the readers on this site. Power, handling and vehicle longevity pale into insignificance when stacked up to looks, price and features to many of the potential buyers.

  • Yianni

    The 380 is a pretty good car as most of us know. Nothing wrong with the drive train and quality of the car. Looks wise its just OK and does not stand out which is a major problem.

    I think Mitsubishi have only themselves to blame. They flogged off the crappy smoking Magnas for years and years and shot themselves in the foot.

    It’s very difficult to rebuild your image when even today you drive behind an older Magna and see all the smoke and hear all the rattles from the engine.

    Wasn’t it reported a few years back that Mitsubishi was buying these Magnas from car yards and sending them straight to the scrap yard just to get them off the road?

    I know so many people that would not touch a Mitsubishi simply because of that reason.

  • Bret

    D-Day is March 31

  • Duck

    So will they shift making the 380 in China or Russia?

  • John S

    geesh carl…take a chill pill…

  • Oz.


  • Oz.

    Oh no! :(

  • http://www.caradvice.com.au Matt

    ***check the main page guys – it’s all over***


  • tonyn

    casey, the facts are although this car didnt sell the media gave mitsubishi’s potential customers conmfidence! i worked for a mitsubishi dealer and people were running scared on what the media said, so im just stating it from my experience!

    do you write for one of the major papers?