Mitsubishi Motor Corporation commonly known as Mitsubishi is the Japan’s sixth largest automobile company while it holds the seventeenth place worldwide. The headquarters of Mitsubishi are in Minato, Tokyo. The company is an associated with Mitsubishi Keiretsu, once largest industrial group in Japan, formed in 1970 by the automotive division of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.
The history of Mitsubishi’s automotive origins goes back to 1917 when the Mitsubishi Shipbuilding Company Ltd launched Japan’s first series-production automobile, the Model A, a seven seater sedan based on Fiat Tipo 3. The interesting fact about Model A was this that it was completely hand-built and hence was quite expensive compared to its competitors in Europe and America. Only 22 units of this automobile had been produced and due to its high cost of production, it was ceased in 1921.
A merger between Mitsubishi Shipbuilding and Mitsubishi Aircraft Company Ltd (founded in 1920 to produce aircraft engines and other related parts) took place in 1934 as result of which a new company, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI), regarded as the largest private company in Japan, was formed. Initially, the company focused on the production of aircraft, ships, railroad cars and machinery, however, later in 1937, a prototype sedan for military use named the PX33 was manufactured. It was the first Japanese-built passenger vehicle that came with all-wheel drive.
At the end of the World War II, the company began its operations again. The company started preparing Fuso buses, a small three-wheeled cargo vehicle, Mizushima and a scooter, the Silver Pigeon as well. In 1950, the Zaibatsu – Japan’s family-controlled industrial corporations were given order to get separated from the Allied powers as a result of which Mitsubishi Heavy Industries divided into three companies including West Japan Heavy-Industries, Central Japan Heavy Industries and East Japan Heavy Industries.
In 1951, East Japan Heavy Industries started importing a relatively cheaper American, the Henry J by Kaiser Motors along with knockdown kit (CKT). Central Japan Heavy Industries also signed a contract with Willys for the CKD-assembled Jeep CJ-3Bs.
With the start of 1960s, the economy of the Japan began to flourish as well as the idea of family motoring. Central Japan Heavy Industries who had already set up its headquarters in 1953 launched its Mitsubishi 500 keeping in view the rising demands of the Japanese people. In 1962, Minica kei appeared and a year later, the first Colt 1000 was produced.
In 1964, both West Japan Heavy Industries and East Japan Heavy Industries merged again to form Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. The company’s output reached 75,000 within three years of its establishment. In 1969, the Galant was produced that was a big success. Keeping in view the progress of the company it was planned to create a separate body to concentrate on automotive industry. As a result of this, Mitsubishi Motors Corporation was established on April 22, 1970, a subsidiary of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. Tomio Kubo, a successful engineer from the aircraft division was assigned the leadership.
The three red diamonds logo was chosen by Iwasaki Yataro who was the founder of Mitsubishi. The name Mitsubishi is formed by combing two Japanese words, i.e. ‘mitsu’ means ‘three’ and ‘hishi’ means ‘water chestnut’ used to refer to diamond or rhombus in Japanese.