We knew this was coming, even if Mitsubishi was coy. The closure has been a long time coming. Mike Rann yesterday said that “”These workers have shown enormous loyalty with the sword of Damocles hanging over their head for more than a decade.” It seems pretty clear that the company misled everyone about their long-term intentions, especially the State and Federal Governments. In November 2006, the ABC got hold of a document, allegedly an internal Mitsubishi document called Project Phoenix, that outlined the plans to shut the factory down. This interview with then-Treasurer Peter Costello at the time is interesting in hindsight. — Tim Dunlop, Blogocracy

Plant goes, Mitsubishi stays. The company is immediately adding an extra year to the warranty coverage of 380s already sold, and emphasized that it would not be withdrawing from the Australian market. In fact, they plan to launch seven new models this year. — Chris Haak, Autoblog

Goodbye Mitsubishi, hello knowledge economy? South Australia’s future depends on maximizing opportunities in the the resources sector. The most promising development we are told is the multi billion dollar expansion of the Olympic Dam uranium mine…This strategy is having some success as manufacturing and agriculture, the traditional lifeblood of the South Australian economy have been declining in importance (from 27% in 1990 to 20.8% in 2006). However, few of the movers and shakers in South Australia talk in terms of the knowledge economy as a strategy of diversification.. — Gary Sauer-Thompson, Public Opinion

Cars go the way of whitegoods. Usually such a closure has big flow on effects on the local economy, but given the decline in the car industry and manufacturing in SA in recent years (remember when we had a white goods industry?) as well as sluggish sales of the 380, the impact may be considerably less this time.  Fat consolation for the 1000 workers at the Tonsley Park plant who will lose their jobs. — DogfightatBankstown

Not just the 380’s fault. [Mitsubishi chief] Mr McEniry said the final decision for Mitsubishi to build the 380 was made in late 2001, well before a massive 37 per cent decline in large cars was experienced in 2005 and 2006. He said the hoped-for major recovery led by the Toyota Aurion and Holden’s VE Commodore also failed to eventuate, with consumer preferences and buying habits running deeper than expected… Mr McEniry said the strengthening of the Australian dollar, particularly against the US greenback, also ended any chance of securing a new export program…
Mr McEniry cited the deal struck to export a stretched version of the previous-generation Magna to the US as a Diamante, which was approved in 2002 and, based on a A58c exchange rate, would see MMAL receive about $A41,000 for each car. By 2004, the revenue per car (based on A88c to the US dollar) was down to $A20,000 – and the program was aborted. — GoAuto

Peter Fray

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