Mitsubishi Motors hopes to boost sales and production in North America by possibly building another plant or using the plants of partner DaimlerChrysler, the chief executive said on Thursday, according to Associated Press (AP).


AP said Mitusbishi, Japan’s fourth-largest car maker which is 37.3% owned by DaimlerChrysler, now exports from Japan most of the cars it sells in North America. It has sharply boosted its sales in the region in recent months through stronger marketing efforts.


Chief executive Rolf Eckrodt told AP that Mitsubishi aims to boost passenger car sales by 11% in North America this year to about 400,000 vehicles.


Mitsubishi will consider adding another factory in North America, but it may also use Chrysler plants or boost output at its plant in Illinois, he said, according to AP.


Mitsubishi sales in Europe will likely remain stagnant in 2003, Eckrodt told AP. The company sold 200,000 vehicles in Europe in 2002.


Associated Press said Mitsubishi continues to struggle in the Japanese market following a scandal involving a cover-up of product defects in 2000. But it expects a sales increase in 2003 because of the Colt compact that went on sale in November and the Grandis minivan set to start selling in May, AP added.


Mitsubishi senior vice president Eiji Iwakuni told AP that the company has set a domestic sales target for the year of 400,000 vehicles. Last year’s domestic sales likely reached 370,000 vehicles, a spokesman told the news agency.


Mitsubishi also expects to sell at least 100,000 cars in China in 2003, up from 70,000 in 2002, Eckrodt told AP.