Car giant to close Australian plant with the loss of 930 jobs

SHOTLIST
1. Wide of news conference by Mitsubishi Motor Company
2. Cutaway of journalists
3. SOUNDBITE: (Japanese) Hiizu Ichikawa, Managing Director in charge of Finance Group Headquarters, Chief Business Ethics Office:
“The (Australian) plant has remained operating only 30 per cent of its full operation. Although we studied our business development in Australia and looked into various of way to keep the plant open from various angles, we could not find a resolution to this difficult situation.”
4. Cutaway of news conference room
5. Cutaway of journalists
6. SOUNDBITE (Japanese) of Ichikawa
“Even after the closure of the plant, Australia remains an important market for us following Japan, the US, China and Russia.”
6. Wide of news conference
STORYLINE
Mitsubishi executives said on Tuesday that the Japanese automobile manufacturer’s Australian plant will be closed, with the loss of 930 jobs.
Mitsubishi Motors President Osamu Masuko said in a statement the closure “is necessary in order to meet the changing market environment and to ensure continued and sustainable growth in our business activities in Australia.”
Speaking at a news conference in Tokyo on Tuesday, a managing director of the company said they had looked carefully at other alternatives.
“Although we studied our business development in Australia and looked into various of way to keep the plant open from various angles, we could not find a resolution to this difficult situation,” Hiizu Ichikawa told gathered journalists.
Ichikawa stressed that despite the closure, Australia would remain “an important market” for the firm.
Mitsubishi Australia President Rob McEniry told workers on Tuesday that their plant in the southern city of Adelaide would close in March.
He told reporters that staff were given the rest of the week off but would return to work on Monday.
McEniry said production of the 380 model sedan manufactured there would be discontinued and the company would sell only imported vehicles in Australia.
The decision was forced on the company by a series of issues, including accumulated losses of more than 1.5 (b) billion Australian dollars (US 1.36 (b) billion US Dollars) over the past 10 years, he said.
He said the company had also struggled to sell the 380 model – sold as the Galant in the US – in a declining large car market, while the impact of exchange rates on exports had also been severe.
He said 930 jobs would be cut and another 280 jobs in associated industries could also be lost.
Australian Industry Minister Kim Carr said the company would repay a 35 (m) million Australian dollar (45 (m) million US dollars) loan to the South Australia state government and pay the employees their full entitlements.
Carr said his government, the state government and the company would contribute to 50 (m) million Australian dollars (32 (m) million US dollars) fund to attract investment to region and provide counselling to those who lost their jobs.
The struggling automaker’s Adelaide plant, which has been running at a third of its production capacity, rolling out some 10-thousand vehicles last year.
Mitsubishi Motors, whose image has been battered by a defect cover-up scandal, has been struggling for years and turned a profit last fiscal year for the first time in four years.

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