GALLERY: Mitsubishi Motors

The benefits Mitsubishi had seen because of its strong presence in south-east Asia reversed themselves as a result of the economic crisis in the region which began in 1991 with the advent of the collapse of the Japanese asset price bubble, referred to in Japan as the beginning of the Lost Decade and continued to 1997. The collapse was partly the result of the Plaza Accord agreement in 1985, which sought to equalize the United States dollar with the Japanese yen and the German mark. In September of that year the company closed its Thai factory in response to a crash in the country's currency and plummeting consumer demand. The large truck plant, which had produced 8,700 trucks in 1996, was shut down indefinitely. In addition, Mitsubishi had little support from sales in Japan, which slowed considerably throughout 1997 and were affected by that country's own economic uncertainty into 1998. Other Japanese automakers, such as Toyota and Honda, bolstered their own slipping domestic sales with success in the U. S. However, with a comparatively small percentage of the American market, the impact of the turmoil in the Asian economy had a greater effect on Mitsubishi, and the company's 1997 losses were the worst in its history. In addition, it lost both its rank as the third largest automaker in Japan to Mazda, and market share overseas. Its stock price fell precipitously, prompting the company to cancel its year-end dividend payment.

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