Story & Photos by Ronald Rey M. de los Reyes
IT was not long ago when Yoshiaki Kato, then Mitsubishi Motors Philippines (MMPC) president, envisioned back in 2016 their own flourishing P2-billion press stamping facility nonchalantly sitting right smack at their own backyard in Santa Rosa, Laguna.
Fast-forward to now, his dreams then eventually have all become a reality when MMPC under now the leadership of Mutsuhiro Oshikiri recently inaugurated the shop that housed the said 2,000-ton stamping machine, the biggest thus far in the country. This would let them produce metal automotive parts, particularly vehicle body panels, for its side, roof, floor and door.
Even when a new chief already sits at the helm of the second-biggest Japanese carmaker in the country, the center seems promising and ready to thrive.
Back then, Kato imagined the stamping facility would be used to produce the large body shells for the hatchback and sedan units of the Mirage, which the company has invested P4.3 billion for the Comprehensive Automotive Resurgence Strategy (CARS) Program.
With the company’s hitting an updated capital expenditure of P5.74 billion as of September 2017 (e.g., outsourced parts: P2.9 billion; in-house parts: P1.99 billion; and in-house assembly: P850 million), it aims to produce 35,000 units annually in two shifts. Stamping is a process of shaping an ordinary metal sheet into a functional design through hard-pounding in between surfaces (like the actual movement of “stamping” on a designated template). These newly stamped sheets would then serve as various parts of the vehicle’s body.
The two registered models under the Department of Trade and Industry’s CARS program, the Mirage and Mirage G4, were the first enrollees of the course and are targeted to be produced for 200,000 units come year 2023.
This scribe also learned that with the plant, it will now empower MMPC to produce a maximum 35,000 units of the Mirage and the Mirage G4 per year.
“The opening of our new stamping shop is the beginning of a new chapter in the story of Mitsubishi Motors’ operations here in the Philippines,” Oshikiri stated.
“This stamping shop enables us to turn the aspiration of localized production into a reality, further building our presence in the Philippines, at the same time strengthening our offering to consumers.”
Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez, meantime, who graced the inauguration, was elated with MMPC’s milestone, saying, “This is the first time in more than half a century of producing quality automobiles that Mitsubishi will have its own stamping facility.”
He also divulged that the program’s goal is to manufacture at least 50 percent of the vehicle’s assembly weight.
At present, MMPC reportedly has already reached 35 percent in local content production for its Mirage model.
“[This is] leading us closer to generating capacities that will prepare us for the future plans to make the Philippines as the hub of car manufacturing of 1 million [units] a year by 2027 for local and export demand,” Lopez enthused.
As part of this new technology, MMPC also shared that it has sent some of its engineers to Mitsubishi Motors Corp. Japan (MMC) to undergo training in the fundamental principles of stamping, which are machine operation, maintenance and repair procedures.
Furthermore, these engineers were also schooled with the basic knowledge of stamping shop operations as well as caring for the stamping die, which is deemed the most crucial tool in the line as it dictates the quality of the output.
MMPC claims to have already generated 600 additional jobs since the inauguration of its Santa Rosa manufacturing plant in January 2015.