Mitsubishi Motor Corporation#;s chief operating officer chief operating officer Rolf Eckrodt would not be drawn yesterday on the size of the support ‘package#; needed from federal and South Australian state governments to keep the Adelaide manufacturing plant going beyond 2005.

Despite persistent questioning by Australian-based journalists on the sidelines of the Geneva motor show, Eckrodt refused to put a figure on the financial support required.

Recent political difficulties in South Australia, home to the Mitsubishi manufacturing plant that builds the Verada/Diamante for Australia, New Zealand, the USA and the Middle East, have led to renewed doubts the plant has a future beyond 2005, when an all-new model would have to be ready for production.

MMC has approved an interim facelift but the issue this week prompted Toyota to issue a statement saying it would stay if Mitsubishi went, even though its rival#;s departure would force up costs.

“We#;re looking for support [and the future of the plant] depends on [the state and federal governments#;] position and our gap in the calculations,” Eckrodt said.

“Approval is positive but it depends on the final figure. The help we#;re looking for is a package of different elements.

Eckrodt stressed there was a “very good chance” of MMAL#;s manufacturing operation staying in business.

“We need them at heart,” he said. “I shouldn#;t say it was guaranteed but we#;re very close to a positive position.”

The timing was conditional on the Australian governments.

“I#;m waiting now,” Eckrodt added. “We#;ll decide soon but the calculations have to be clarified.”

MMC had already decided to do the facelift model change, he stressed.