INFOGRAPHIC: History of Mitsubishi
Mitsubishi is a car manufacturer that’s known for vehicles such as the Lancer, Pajero, and Eclipse. These cars contributed into cementing the legacy of Mitsubishi Motors as one of the iconic car companies. However, like any other organization, Mitsubishi has its own humble beginnings. How did this car company started? Who are its founders? What are its notable milestones? To answer those questions, here’s a history of Mitsubishi.
Mitsubishi was founded by Yataro Iwasaki in 1870, not as a car company but as a shipping firm.
The company expanded while undergoing several name changes including Mitsukawa Shokai, Mitsubishi Shokai, Mitsubishi Jokisen Kaisha (Mitsubishi Steamship Company), Yubin Kisen Mitsubishi Kaisha (Mitsubishi Mail Steamship Company).
Yataro-san passed away in 1885 due to cancer. His younger brother Yanosuke succeeded him as president of Mitsubishi.
In 1893, Yataro’s son, Hisaya, became the company’s president. Hisaya diversified the business by setting up divisions for banking, real estate, marketing, and administration.
Koyata Iwasaki succeeded Hisaya and took the role as the company’s president in 1916. Koyata further expanded the company and entered it into the following industries: machinery, electrical equipment, and chemicals. Koyata also established Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, which developed automobiles, aircraft, tanks, and buses.
In 1917, Mitsubishi introduced the Model-A, a luxury vehicle designed for government officials. The Mitsubishi Model-A is said to be the first mass-produced car in Japan.
Mitsubishi continued to expand and grow its market until World War II broke out in 1939. During the war, Mitsubishi manufactured military aircraft, the most famous of which was the A6M Zero fighter plane.
After the war, the allied forces demanded Japan’s big industrial groups to disband. Koyata refused to accept the order until he fell ill and passed away in 1945. As a result, Mitsubishi disbanded on September 30, 1946.
In 1952, the San Francisco Peace Treaty allowed Japan to be recognized once again as part of the international community. Two years after, Mitsubishi Corporation was re-established in 1954.
In 1962, Mitsubishi Motors fielded the 500 Super Deluxe car at the Macau Grand Prix, an international motorsports event. The car managed to set a track record and it’s also the first vehicle to be aerodynamically tested in a wind tunnel in Japan.
The year 1970 is among the most memorable years of Mitsubishi as the company launched the Colt Galant GTO. In 1973, the Mitsubishi Lancer debuted. Subsequently, Mitsubishi entered the Lancer 1600GSR at the Australian Southern Cross Rally, eventually dominating it with a first-second-third-place finish.
Mitsubishi made its debut in the United States in 1982. The Japanese automaker introduced the Tredia, Cordia, and Starion models in the US.
In 1983, Mitsubishi achieved another motorsport accolade courtesy of the Pajero as it won the triple crown in its first appearance at the Paris-Dakar Rally. Four years later, the Mitsubishi Galant VR-4 was introduced featuring an Active Electronically Controlled Suspension. This car also gave Mitsubishi’s first Car of the Year award in Japan.
The year 1990 was a busy year for Mitsubishi. First, the company designed the world’s first electronically-controlled Traction Control System. Second, the company launched the 3000GT (GTO). Lastly, the Eclipse debuted in America and was on Car and Driver’s ’10 Best List’ until 1992.
In 1992, the iconic Lancer Evolution was launched and won several World Rally Championships, track racing, and hill climb titles.
Mitsubishi’s motorsport campaign was at its greatest in 1998. The Japanese carmaker dominated the Dakar Rally and won the FIA World Class Cup Cross-Country Rally courtesy of the Pajero. Moreover, Mitsubishi was doing a spectacular job in the World Rally Championship due to the Lancer Evolution.
In 2003, the Lancer Evolution equipped with All-Wheel-Control was launched in the US. Two years later, Mitsubishi launched the Outlander, a compact SUV.
In 2007, the Lancer Evolution X was launched with All-Wheel-Control. This car is regarded as one of the vehicles that’s equipped with the most advanced all-wheel drive system. The Lancer Evolution X also won as the Car of the Year in Japan.
In 2008, Mitsubishi wanted to be a company that values environmental sustainability by introducing the Drive@Earth campaign. The goal of this campaign is to develop vehicles that can “exist in harmony with people, society, and the environment.” This campaign also strengthens Mitsubishi’s research and development when it comes to emissions-reducing technology.
In 2009, the Mitsubishi i-MiEV was launched. In case you’re wondering, i-MiEV stands for Mitsubishi Innovative Electric Vehicle.
In 2013, Mitsubishi introduced the Outlander PHEV, a plug-in hybrid SUV. This car won the Car of the Year’s Innovation Award in Japan.
Nissan acquired Mitsubishi in 2016, making it a part of the Renault-Nissan Alliance.
Click here for a list of brand-new Mitsubishi 2018 models