Mitsubishi Motors Corp. President Rolf Eckrodt said Thursday the carmaker is considering expanding its production capacity in North America and will come up with a plan in the next few weeks.

Eckrodt said MMC is weighing three options: expansion of its Illinois plant, building a new plant or using a factory operated by the Chrysler group, part of DaimlerChrysler AG.

MMC formed a capital alliance with the German-American auto giant in 2000.

Eckrodt said using Chrysler facilities would be attractive, because MMC could reduce investment costs.

“We are getting a lot of offers now (for a new factory site) from different states from Canada to Mexico,” he said.

MMC hopes to increase annual sales in North America by 11 percent from 2002 to 400,000 units this year and to 600,000 units by 2007, Eckrodt said.

In China, MMC also expects to sell 100,000 cars this year, up 43 percent from 2002, he said.

On the domestic front, the carmaker hopes to sell at least 400,000 units this year, up about 14 percent from 2002. MMC hopes demand will grow with the launch the Grandis multipurpose vehicle in May.

Honda faces upgrade

Moody’s Investors Service Inc. said Thursday it has placed the A2 long-term debt ratings of Honda Motor Co. and its supported subsidiaries on review for possible upgrade.

The move reflects improvements in Honda’s market position and financial flexibility, despite a challenging industry environment, the U.S. rating agency said.

The review will focus on the sustainability of Honda’s product competitiveness in key markets and its ability to further diversify profit generation — factors that are key to long-term operating performance and cash flow stability.

Moody’s said it will also focus on Honda’s capital expenditure requirements in relation to its need to further enhance its global market position and its balance-sheet liquidity.

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