Mitsubishi – changing patterns of production

Currently, Mitsubishi has 12 production facilities around the world – five facilities/plants in its home country of Japan and seven in the rest of the world; including one in United States, Philippines, Thailand, Netherlands, Russia and two in China.

It builds its cars in Thailand and Philippines specifically because of the low labour rates and to keep costs down with the objective to maximise profits. Another advantage of all of these plants is that they are each uniquely located in a prominent location around the world.

The five production plants in Japan serve to boost Mitsubishi’s home economy while also being the brand’s ‘heart of Asia’. The two factories in China feed the emerging market in that country and so are very well-placed indeed, while the NedCar plant in Born, Netherlands acts as Mitsubishi’s capital base in Europe. The plant in Russia serves the middle east with their emerging markets and increased demand for the Eclipse and Galant throughout 2005-2010, where Mitsubishi’s most successful dealership at that time was located (1). And the large production facility in Illinois, United States covers the North and South American markets, particularly useful given the size of North America’s car industry and the rapid emergence of Brazil as a growing car market.

Mitsubishi Motors Corporation does utilise platform sharing, with three dominant platforms. The GS platform is primarily used in compact cars, small and mid-size family cars and SUVs across North America, Europe and Japan. All Mitsubishi vehicles utilising the GS platform are built in Japan.

The PS platform is a medium-size front-wheel drive platform developed by Mitsubishi North America. All cars and vehicles built at the Illinois plant are underpinned by the platform, such as the Eclipse, Galant and Australian-derived 380 saloon.

The third platform is called the Z platform and is the basis for the Mitsubishi Colt. It is built at the NedCar plant in the Netherlands.

One recommendation I would give to the platform sharing is that perhaps it would seem more logical for the SUV GS platform to be manufactured in the North American plant, and not just in Japan. Given the favourable SUV market in North and South America.

With regards to restructuring of operating structure, MMC aims to achieve an optimum balance of global production capacity by expanding in emerging markets, such as China and Brazil, and maintaining adequate capacity in mature markets and introducing new technology at plants in Japan. Mitsubishi is going ahead with increased productivity rate at its Mizushima plant – the base of mini and compact car manufacturing. MMC also plans to reduce the total number of models from 18 in 2013 to 13 models by the end of 2016.

When it comes to the company’s quality philosophy, Mitsubishi Motors Corporation believes that quality is the most important aspect required. Going forward, and in light of its horrendous decade-long defect cover-up of 2004 (2), MMC aims to halve the number of failures which occur within three months of delivery, and halve the period from any occurrence of failures to determination of counter measures.

MMC’s environmental targets for 2015 are to reduce vehicle-produced CO2 emissions by 25 per cent, and 50 per cent by 2020, while increasing electric-powered vehicle production by a minimum of 5 per cent by 2015 and a minimum of 20 per cent by 2020.

Sources/references

(1) http://www.businessweek.com/stories/2006-02-19/russia-shoppers-gone-wild
(2) http://www.autosafety.org/mitsubishi-motors-admits-decades-long-defect-cover
(3) http://www.newspress.co.uk/ViewPressRelease.aspx?pr=46930
(4) http://www.mitsubishi-motors.com/en/index.html

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About aaronsmith788

2013-2014 Coventry MA Automotive Journalism student. Published work in Autocar, New Zealand Autocar, Metropol magazine, Timaru Herald. Hopefully many more to come. I'm a sucker for bang-for-buck cars.

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