Although over 40 years old, Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (MMC) is still relatively new compared with the other companies within the Mitsubishi group who are celebrating over 150 years of service. It’s a good opportunity to stop, look back, ponder and reflect to better prepare tomorrow. Never more so than at a time when MMC is embarking on a new and promising strategic direction, it’s important to not forget that the company known today as “Mitsubishi Motors Corporation” has a long and rich history dating back to the 19th century, at a time when steam power reigned supreme on land and sea…
Back to 1870
Japan’s rapid industrialisation in the late 1800’s boosted the ambitions of its entrepreneurs. The boldest of all was Yataro Iwasaki, who was to become the founder of Mitsubishi. Born to a samurai family, he proved an able manager and in 1870, decided to set up his own shipping company with three steamships.
Two clan crests, one logo
Initially, Yataro called his company “Tsukumo”, but the flags on his ships displayed the now-famous Three-Diamond emblem and by 1874 he had adopted the name “Mitsubishi” (or “Three Diamonds”). He also created the now famous Three-Diamond mark by combining two images: the angular form of his family’s crest and the three-leaf crest of the Tosa clan, his first employer.
Trading, banks and aircrafts
Overtime, Mitsubishi grew into a successful company present in a multitude of areas, from international trading and shipbuilding to banking, optics and aircraft design and manufacturing. Actually, aircraft manufacturing took precedence over car manufacturing, spelling the end of production in 1921 of Mitsubishi’s first car, the Model-A launched three years earlier.
The demise of Model-A did not prevent Mitsubishi from further exploring transportation, introducing Japan’s first Diesel engine (“450AD”) for use in motor vehicles in 1931 or Mitsubishi’s first bus the next year. To become of major importance a few decades later, Japan’s first 4WD vehicle and the forerunner of today’s Pajero / Montero / Shogun was introduced in 1936: that was the PX33 all-terrain torpedo.
Accompanying Japan’s economic rebirth in the 50’s and 60’s, Mitsubishi boosted its automobile activities with the timely launch of the all-new Mitsubishi 500 in 1960: a thoroughly engineered small car equally at ease in town as on the track bringing Mitsubishi is first ever (class) win at the 1962 Macau Grand Prix. That same year, the Colt 600 was unveiled: the first Mitsubishi car to wear that now famous name.
Expansion and Innovation
The “Motor Vehicle Division” of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. was spun off in 1970 to become “Mitsubishi Motors Corporation” or “MMC”, marking the start of a new expansion with the subsequent launch of the ambitious new Lancer in 1973: the first Mitsubishi car to be sold in Europe (1975) and the one that really created Mitsubishi Motors’ fantastic reputation in motor sports.
Stylish, tough and spirited, Lancer was also the precursor of a long list of cars that added Mitsubishi’s trademark innovation to this equation, from the world-first Silent Shaft technology, to today’s pioneering i-MiEV zero on-road emission electric car: a vehicle that confirms Mitsubishi Motors position as a global leader in green technologies.
A Japanese global player
Mitsubishi Motors is proud of its Japanese heritage and of its Mitsubishi heritage. All along the years, both have allowed to create a unique personality for the Mitsubishi brand, blending sharp Japanese design and craftsmanship, utmost reliability, great value for money with a strong sense of innovation and the sort of emotion inherent to our sporting spirit.
Today, Mitsubishi Motors is a mid-size manufacturer (1,075,000 units for FY 2011, an increase of 9% or 88,000 units on 2010) with a global footprint, building a range of vehicles designed and developed in Japan for world markets, built in 7 plants located in 5 different countries (+ more than 12 business partner’s facilities in about 11 countries) and sold in over 160 world markets.
Tomorrow, Mitsubishi Motors Corporation is committed to two fundamental shifts in its product strategy, pre-empting pro-actively structural changes in global market demand:
One family – One heritage – Three Principles
From the original shipping company set up in 1870, Mitsubishi grew over the years into a Japan-based multi-activity global group of companies, most of them leaders in their sectors.
Known for their cutting edge technology, for their global reach and for their commitment to serving the greater good of society, the now independent Mitsubishi companies operate separately in accordance with different management strategies. However, they all share the same heritage and for most of them, the Mitsubishi name and the famous Three-Diamond logo.
They are also bound by the Three Principles or the management philosophies created by Mitsubishi’s fourth president, Koyata Iwasaki: considered to be “Mitsubishi’s DNA”, they were inherited like an unbroken yarn of traditions:
Backed by these philosophies the whole group continues active operations in a form of open organisations.