Mitsubishi Motors North America feels the pain that's being experienced by General Motors, Ford and Chrysler.

Mitsubishi Motors North America feels the pain that's being experienced by General Motors, Ford and Chrysler.


Like its Big Three brothers, Mitsubishi is dealing with a U.S. auto industry-wide decline of 30 percent in vehicle sales this year.


"But you really can't draw any parallels between us and the Big Three as to the reason why they're asking for $25 billion from Congress," Mitsubishi spokesman Dan Irvin said Wednesday.


"They're asking for a bridge loan to keep them going until late 2009, when their brightest minds tell them there will be a reverse in the downward sales cycle," Irvin said. "GM, Ford and Chrysler are burning through cash. We're not in that situation."


Mitsubishi's lone U.S. production facility is in Normal.


Irvin didn't want to take sides in the debate between government bailout of the Big Three and possible bankruptcies of the companies.


"But I will say that our country is facing unprecedented economic challenges, and that calls for unprecedented action from the government." he said.


Irvin said it's important for the country for the Big Three to stay afloat.


"They're the largest companies in a key industry in our economy," he said.


General Motors CEO Rick Wagoner couldn't agree more.


"This is all about a lot more than Detroit. It's about saving the U.S. economy from a catastrophic collapse," he told the Senate banking committee Tuesday.


GM and Chrysler executives have warned that they'll run out of money without immediate government help.


Ford isn't in those dire straits, but company executives say the Big Three's interconnected supply base would be compromised so much by a GM and Chrysler collapse that vehicle production could halt across the United States.


If that happens, according to a study, three million jobs and $156 billion in tax revenue would be lost in the first year.


Besides not burning through cash, other major differences between Mitsubishi and the Big Three, according to Irvin, include Mitsubishi's four-year restructuring plan, now in the home stretch, and the fact that Mitsubishi has only about 1 percent of the U.S. market share.


If Big Three suppliers start closing, Irvin said, that wouldn't have a great effect on Mitsubishi.


"We don't use many of the same suppliers," Irvin said. "Our suppliers deal mostly with Japanese and Korean auto companies."


Steve Stein can be reached at (309) 686-3041 or stevestein21@yahoo.com.