BREAKING: Mitsubishi taps Franklin for North American HQ

BREAKING: Mitsubishi taps Franklin for North American HQ

Automaker will relocate 200 people from California by year’s end

Making a move that will further bolster Middle Tennessee’s reputation as an attractive location for national and global corporate powers, Mitsubishi Motors North America executives will relocate their headquarters to Franklin from California.

Starting in August and to be completed by year’s end, the effort will result in about 200 people calling the Nashville area their home, according to a release. All of the automaker’s corporate departments will be relocating, including sales, marketing, IT, human resources, communications, parts and service, product planning, dealer operations, finance and legal. A specific Franklin office building for the transition home was not disclosed but Mitsubishi officials are working with representatives from commercial real estate firm Jones Lang LaSalle to identify the company’s permanent offices.

Now located in Cypress, California, Mitsubishi’s North America home office was established in 1988. The company does not operate a manufacturing facility in the United States.

Officials said Tuesday the move is part of an ongoing plan to “reinvent every aspect of Mitsubishi Motors in the U.S.,” including corporate leadership, dealer network and customer relationships. During the past 12 months, 80 percent of the Mitsubishi leadership team members have been hired or promoted.

Mitsubishi’s North American HQ move comes as the broader Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance of which it has been a part since the fall of 2016 is working through a tough period, driven both by the ouster of former Nissan chief Carlos Ghosn and questions about the future role of the French government in Renault’s operations. Osamu Masuko, chairman of the global Mitsubishi organization, last week told his shareholders his team “has come to see the issues with the alliance” but said the automaker needs the tight connections to its partners to help it on the purchasing, technology and logistics fronts, among others.

On Tuesday, Mitsubishi executives said they chose Franklin in part to realize cost savings via Tennessee’s “business-friendly work environment” but also to be much closer to sister company Nissan. The company’s release did not include any other U.S. cities Mitsubishi officials may have considered.

Mitsubishi’s West Coast parts distribution center, located on the existing Los Angeles-area HQ campus, also will be relocating. Mitsubishi is working with Nissan North America to establish the warehouse in a newly constructed shared facility in nearby Riverside, California. Additionally, 25 employees representing Mitsubishi’s Western Region operations will move to new offices elsewhere in Orange County.

No other Mitsubishi Motors facilities in the U.S. are affected, including its research and development operations in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and government relations office in Washington, D.C.

“Mitsubishi Motors is changing the way we go to market in the United States, and it is leading to a rebirth of the company,” Fred Diaz, Mitsubishi’s North American president and CEO — a former Nissan executive —  said in the release. “This is an exciting time for us, with a refreshed leadership team, new-look dealerships and redesigned and all-new vehicles. ”

The release does note if any state incentives are being offered to Mitsubishi. Gov. Bill Lee said Tennessee’s business climate and skilled workforce has attracted “countless world-class businesses” to the state, which he termed the “epicenter of the Southeast’s thriving automotive sector.”

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