TOKYO (Reuters) - Mitsubishi Motors 7211.T said on Thursday it would close its sole production plant in the United States as the Japanese automaker cuts losses on dwindling sales in North America and a strong U.S. dollar, which has stymied returns.
Mitsubishi Motors confirmed a report in Japan’s Nikkei newspaper on Thursday, which said that the automaker was unable to find a buyer for its factory in Normal, Illinois, and take on its workers.
“We have given up looking for an automaker to buy the plant, but we are looking for possible buyers from other industries,” a Mitsubishi Motors spokesman said.
The spokesman however refused comment on the report’s claim that Mitsubishi Motors expected to book an extraordinary loss of between 20 billion yen and 30 billion yen ($169.52 million to $254.28 million) in the fiscal year ending in March due to costs related to the closure.
Once a production hub for Mitsubishi’s Outlander Sport SUV model, the plant ended vehicle production in November, laying off 1,000 workers.
The automaker said the plant would continue to make car parts until the end of May, at which point its remaining 250 workers would be made redundant.
Last year, the automaker said it would center production in Japan, Southeast Asia and Russia, after closing its plant in the Netherlands in 2012.
($1 = 117.9800 yen)
Reporting by Naomi Tajitsu; Editing by Biju Dwarakanath
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