Celebrating 100 Years of Mitsubishi Motors
100 years is quite a milestone for Mitsubishi Motors and lately the brand has been changing things up quite a bit. A merge with Nissan, a farewell to the Lancer, and steady chatter of new concepts and the PHEV coming to the U.S. Well, now it’s 2017, and some of that is finally about to change. But first, a little history briefing.
Mitsubishi is born and releases its first vehicle, the Mitsubishi Model-A. Designed as a luxury vehicle for government officials, it looks like a horse-drawn carriage without the horse. Most of our readers won’t remember this vehicle or the timeline; mostly because the vehicle was only in Japan, and we were in the midst of World War I.
Bit of a jump there, but the next big milestone for Mitsubishi Motors was its entry into an international motorsports event with the Mitsubishi 500 Super Deluxe. They instantly set a track record. For a time reference, you might remember actress Audrey Hepburn around this time. Yeah, let the nostalgia flow.
Throughout the ‘70s, Mitsubishi Motors started to research electric vehicle tech and actually was the first automaker to mass market an electric vehicle. However, the more notable event is Mitsubishi Motors selling its first car in America. Surprise! It was bought out and sold under the name of the Dodge Colt for over 20 years. Around this time, the Vietnam War was going strong and finally ended four years later, so we can’t fault anyone for being a little hazy on this.
Here we go – Mitsubishi Motors breaks into the American market with the Mitsubishi Tredia, Cordia, and Starion. This was a good decade for Mitsubishi Motors, their Galant Vr-4 was named Motor Trend Car of the Year and won the WRC1000 and RAC Rallies in 1989. Mitsubishi Motors also engineered the world’s first energy-saving Turbo Diesel engine with Silent Shaft Technology. Remember the Rubik’s Cube? Yeah, that plagued the ‘80s. Thanks a lot Erno Rubik!
Mitsubishi started to settle in a bit through the ‘90s. They launched the iconic high-performance Mitsubishi 3000GT in 1990, that won another Motor Trend award in 1991. They also had several accomplishments in technology such as the world’s first electronically-controlled Traction Control System, a mandatory feature in vehicles today. They also won “Technology of the Year” by Japan Car Research and Journalist Conference for their INVEC system, that adapts to a person’s driving habits in 1992 and designed their MIVEC engine the same year. There was also the development of Gasoline Direct Injection (GDI) in 1996 and winning a couple more races. Something you might remember from the ‘90s? Clueless, Nirvana, Spice Girls or NSYNC.
For the 21st Century, Mitsubishi continued to win races. They released the Lancer Evolution with All-Wheel Control (AWC) in the U.S. and in 2005 they released the Outlander that quickly became the face of the auto company. In 2009 the all-electric i-Miev was launched worldwide. A lot happened in the early 2000s. The U.S. experienced the terror of 9/11 and America made history with the election of Barack Obama, the first African American president.
Mitsubishi teases the states with the PX-MiEV, a plug-in hybrid that most likely led to the development of the Outlander PHEV, a vehicle we’ve been itching to drive. It’s U.S. release has been pushed back several times. In 2012, Mitsubishi celebrates 30 years in the States. A few more races and a seven years, and here we are. Do we really need to talk about the early 2010s? – The Deepwater Horizon, the final shuttle flight and Super Storm Sandy?
2017 and Going Forward
This might be the year the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV may see American shores. It’s also the year Mitsubishi Motors will be putting the eX SUV concept to work, the first autonomous vehicle with Artificial Intelligence (A.I.). So that’s pretty cool.
Happy 100th to Mitsubishi Motors! Have any Mitsubishi memories you’d like to share? Let us know on University Mitsubishi’s Facebook page.