Mitsubishi announced plans to leave the site in 2015 to shift its business strategy toward Asia. The factory started as a joint venture with Chrysler in 1988 and was the only plant from a Japanese automaker in the US with a UAW-represented workforce. This was allegedly a sticking point when finding a buyer because other companies in the industry didn't want to take on the union employees' contract.
The Normal factory ended assembly of the Outlander Sport in November 2015 and laid off 1,000 workers at that time. The site will continue to make car parts until May, and then Mitsubishi will let go of the remaining 250 employees. The costs of shutting down the factory could be as high as 30 billion yen ($255 million), but a company spokesperson wouldn't confirm that figure to Reuters.
Mitsubishi's fortunes seem on the upswing in the US as of late. The company's deliveries jumped 22.8 percent in 2015 to a total of 95,342 vehicles, and the last fiscal year brought the automaker's first operating profit in this region in seven years.