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Mitsubishi to Cut Jobs, Including 230 at Cypress Unit

November 06, 1998|From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Mitsubishi Motors Corp. said Thursday that it plans to cut 1,000 jobs at its U.S. sales and manufacturing operations, including about 230 in Cypress, during the next two years in an effort to restore profitability.

The Japanese auto maker said it will eliminate about 700 jobs at its 4,200-employee manufacturing plant in Normal, Ill. The sales operation in Cypress employs about 1,100 people. Together, the job cuts amount to 19% of Mitsubishi's U.S. work force.

The cuts, most of which the company hopes to achieve through attrition and transfers, will be completed by March 2001.

"We think most of it we can handle through attrition and impact people as little as possible," spokesman Kim Custer said. He said it isn't yet known how many people will be laid off in Cypress.

An announcement will be made today in Japan by Mitsubishi President Katsuhiko Kawasoe. The company will release its half-year financial results and is expected to announce the closing of two factories in Japan, according to Nikkei English News.

Last month, Mitsubishi eliminated about 70 sales division positions affiliated with the Cypress operation by consolidating its loan department.

The ninth-largest auto maker in the U.S. began restructuring U.S. operations in April after Takashi Sonobe became head of North American auto making and sales.

Mitsubishi, Japan's fourth-largest auto maker, has suffered as a result of economic problems in Asia. In the United States, the company has been struggling for the last several years to post sales gains and increase market share.

U.S. operations made a small profit last year and so far this year, and Mitsubishi's share of the U.S. car market has remained stable at 1.2%.

U.S. sales for the maker of the Galant sedan and Montero sport-utility vehicle rose 0.4% to 164,351 for the first 10 months of the year.

Last month, the company said it would close its five regional U.S. offices by June and centralize operations at its U.S. headquarters in Cypress.

Times staff writers Leslie Earnest and John O'Dell contributed to this report, and Reuters and Bloomberg News were also used.

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