‘Designed in America for America’ Is Mitsubishi Heavy’s Mantra

  • Company’s forklift unit plans to double U.S. research workers
  • U.S. accounts for about 17% of Mitsubishi Heavy’s revenue

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. plans to double research workers at its forklift division in the U.S. amid a drive by President-elect Donald Trump to expand jobs in the nation.

“We’re setting our sights firmly on the U.S. since it’s a big market,” said Atsushi Maekawa, chief executive officer of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Forklift, Engine & Turbocharger Holdings Ltd., the world’s third-largest manufacturer of forklifts. “We will invest more.”

The Japanese company, which has factories in Chicago and Houston, plans to boost its research and development staff at the business in the U.S. to about 100 by October, Maekawa said. His comments come on the heels of Toyota Motor Corp.’s announcement this week that it will invest $10 billion in the U.S. over the next five years, after Trump attacked the automaker for an earlier proposal to build a factory in Mexico.

“We want to make forklifts designed in America for America,” Maekawa said Wednesday in an interview in Kawasaki city, near Tokyo. “The market is moving to forklifts powered by batteries instead of gasoline, and so we will shift our focus to that.”

Shares of Mitsubishi Heavy fell 1.2 percent to 524.6 yen on Thursday in Tokyo, compared with a similar decline for the Nikkei 225 Stock Average.

The U.S. accounted for 17 percent of Mitsubishi Heavy’s total revenue of 4.05 trillion yen ($35 billion) in the 12 months ended March 2016, data compiled by Bloomberg show. Mitsubishi Heavy Forklift plans to increase sales of its forklifts in the U.S. to 140 billion yen in the 12 months through March 2021, from 120 billion yen in the year ended March 2016, Maekawa said.

Read more: How Trump criticized Toyota over its Mexico factory plan

Mitsubishi Heavy is also ready to add capacity to build more turbochargers in the U.S., where it opened a factory in Franklin, Indiana, in 2015 after receiving an order from General Motors Co., Maekawa said. The plant produced 1.2 million units last year, he said.

“We have space to significantly expand our turbocharger factory,” the executive said. “If we can get the orders, we’ll expand it.”

Toyota Industries Corp., an affiliate of the carmaker, and Germany’s Kion Group AG are the world’s top forklift makers.

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