Company : Mitsubishi History

In the beginning

Globally, Mitsubishi’s motoring heritage goes back to 1917 when the Mitsubishi Model A, Japan’s first series-production automobile, was introduced. Over the next two decades the company established itself as an automotive innovator. It developed Japan’s first diesel engine; its first large-sized bus - the start of the world famous Fuso commercial vehicle series; its first four-wheel drive passenger car; and its first diesel-powered truck.

In 1934 the automotive operations of Mitsubishi were consolidated into the newly formed Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, which became the largest private company in Japan. In 1936 it developed the PX33 sedan for military use. It was the first Japanese-built car with full time four-wheel drive. This is a technology that has been a cornerstone of the company’s success ever since.

After the second world-war Japan’s large family controlled industrial conglomerates (Zaibatsu) were dismantled by order of Allied Powers. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries was split into three regional companies; East, West and Central Japan Heavy Industries. Each had motor
vehicle activities.

The Mitsubishi PX33 Commisioned 1934

The Mitsubishi 500, 1960

By the beginning of the 1960’s Japan's economy was gearing up; wages were rising and the idea of family motoring was taking off. Central Japan Heavy-Industries, now known as Shin Mitsubishi Heavy-Industries, introduced the Mitsubishi 500, a mass market sedan, to meet the new demand from consumers. It followed this in 1962 with the Minica kei car and the Colt 1000, the first of its Colt line of family cars, in 1963. In 1964, Mitsubishi introduced its largest passenger sedan, the Mitsubishi Debonair as a luxury car primarily for the Japanese market.


Mitsubishi Heavy Industries was re-integrated in 1964 and had an output of 75,000 vehicles annually. Following the successful
introduction of the first Galant in 1969 and similar growth with its commercial vehicle division, it was decided that the company should create a single operation to focus on the automotive industry. Mitsubishi Motors Corporation was formed on April 22, 1970 as a wholly owned subsidiary of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, and  embarked on an international strategy of forming alliances. Annual production had by now grown from 500,000 vehicles in 1973 to 965,000 in 1978. The company went public in 1988 and in 2005 the company was returned to private Japanese ownership, under stewardship of Mitsubishi Corporation.

The Mitsubishi Evolution