Mitsubishi: Company History, Current Models, Interesting Facts ...


The automotive division of Mitsubishi Industries, Mitsubishi Motors Corporation, has only been standing on its own since 1970. Despite the relatively short though, the automaker has managed to make a big impact worldwide with their unique selection of compacts, sedans and sport utility vehicles.

Company History

Mitsubishi Motors Corporation may not have a long standing history of functioning on its own as a mass automaker, but Mitsubishi has had their hands in auto manufacturing for nearly a century. Mitsubishi Shipbuilding produced a completely handmade sedan called the Mitsubishi Model A in 1917. Twenty two of these cars were produced between 1917 and 1921 before Mitsubishi put their auto making efforts on hold.

In the mid thirties Mitsubishi Shipbuilding joined with Mitsubishi Aircraft to form Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. While this new company’s focus was on crafting planes, boats and railway cars they did produce a four wheel drive passenger vehicle for the military that had traits that would surface again in future Mitsubishi vehicles.

Mitsubishis first successful mass market car, the Mitsubishi 500, was produced in 1960 while the company was still just a subdivision of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. Both the Minica kei car and the first effort in the Colt series, the Colt 1000, hit the streets in the early sixties before Mitsubishi Motors Corporation was operating as a standalone manufacturer.

Mitsubishi sought to expand quickly – and the strategy they opted for was to partner up with already established automakers in other countries. In 1971 Mitsubishi sold 15% of their company to Chrysler in order to gain some quick exposure into the US. The first Colt hit the US shores in 1971, but was sold under the Dodge name – it wasn’t until 1982 before Mitsubishi began selling cars on US soil under their own name.

Flagship Model

Mitsubishi’s current flagship model is the Lancer Evolution. This model first hit the roadways in 2003 and Mitsubishi has been making improvements ever since to keep the “Evo” at the top of its class.

The Lancer Evolution is a sleek sports sedan that focuses just as much on driving performance as it does on driver/passenger comfort. This car has great pick-up, consistent power and excellent handling making it a favorite of folks who simply love to be behind the wheel.

Mitsubishi has also taken the complete auto experience into account to help their flagship model to stand out from the competition. The Lancer Evolution has great lines, a comfortable futuristic cockpit and a host of available options designed to improve performance and driving experience.

Current Models

Mitsubishi has come a long way since producing their first military use vehicles. The Japanese headquartered automaker has a full line of compacts, sub-compacts, sports cars, sedans and sport utility vehicles to appeal to virtually every driver that hits the road.

In the sub-compact and compact departments, Mitsubishi offers updated versions of the Mirage and the Lancer – two cars that have been in production for more than a decade and that both have good followings. Mitsubishi is also now offering the i-MiEV compact all electric car, a unique and attractive EV for those who want to save on gas or who want to save the environment.

As a sports compact sedan, the latest incarnation of the Lancer Evolution is Mitsubishi’s most popular model and will likely remain at the top of the heap for the foreseeable future.

Mitsubishi also has offerings for those in the market for sports utility and multi-purpose vehicles. The Outlander is a roomy, rugged and capable off road vehicle that has been at or near the top of the heap for SUVs for nearly a decade.

Previous Models

Since their beginnings Mitsubishi has had a hand in producing a wide array of passenger vehicles from full compact to full size and up through SUV. The company has gone through some difficult times but has continued to produce new and innovative vehicles on multiple occasions in order to come back from what could have been devastating financial problems.

Compacts and sub-compacts like the Mirage and Gallant enjoyed decades of popularity across North America and the Mitsubishi Eclipse, a cool sports compact, had an excellent run in the US from the early 1990’s until the company opted to suspend production in 2012.

The Montero was a popular SUV for more than two decades in North America and the Montero Sport mid size SUV and Mighty Max pick-up both enjoyed good sales in the US.

Interesting Facts

Mitsubishi had a unique marketing approach via a partnership with action movie mega star Jackie Chan. The martial arts icon helped increase exposure to the brand by almost exclusively using Mitsubishi cars in his movies for the past three decades. The partnership is so tight that Mitsubishi’s Motorsports Division even produced a special Jackie Chan edition of the Lancer Evolution IX, limited to 50 units.

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