Mitsubishi

Mitsubishi Motors is a Japanese automaker that is part of the larger Mitsubishi Group. It was founded in 1970 when the automotive division was spun off from Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. However, the true history of the company can be traced all the way back to 1917, when the Mitsubishi Shipping Company introduced the first production automobile in Japan. Today, Mitsubishi Motors has production facilities in Japan, North America, Europe, China, and Southeast Asia.

mitsubishi logo

The “theree diamonds” logo is used throughout the Mitsubishi Group.

History of Mitsubishi Motors

The Mitsubishi conglomerate was an early entrant into the automobile industry. In fact, the first production automobile in Japan was the Mitsubishi Model A. This hand-crafted sedan, based on an earlier Fiat model, was built by the Mitsubishi Ship Building Co. Ltd. However, extensive production costs rendered it prohibitively expensive when compared to European and American vehicles that used modern mass production techniques.

A decade later, the Mitsubishi Shipbuilding Company, along with the Mitsubishi Aircraft Company, was rolled into Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. This new company was engaged in the business of manufacturing everything from airplanes to railroad cars, but it also returned to the automobile industry in 1937 with a new sedan prototype.

After the conclusion of World War II, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries was split into three regional companies. Each of these companies pursued the automobile market in different ways, with one importing kit cars from America and another producing Jeeps under a license from Willys-Overland. In 1964, the three companies were reunified once again as Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, which would establish the Mitsubishi Motors Company a subsidiary in 1970.

In order to facilitate expansion into foreign markets, MHI sold a stake in the newly formed MMC to Chrysler in 1971. This led to Chrysler selling rebadged Mitsubishis in the United States and ultimately to Mitsubishi itself moving into the North American market. The first Mitsubishi-badged vehicle was sold in the United States in 1982. In 1985, MMC also entered into a joint partnership with Chrysler to create Diamond-Star Motors, which built a number of manufacturing facilities that were shared by the two companies.

Prior to 1988, the Mitsubishi Motor Company was the only automobile manufacturer in Japan to be privately held. That distinction ended with an IPO in 1988, which also led to Chrysler increasing its stake in the company. Although MHI maintained a controlling interest in the company at that time, DaimlerChrysler would later increase its stake to a high of nearly 40 percent. Today, the controlling interest in MMC is once again in the hands of the Mitsubishi conglomerate.

Vital Mitsubishi Motor Company Data

Founded: 1970
Current headquarters: Tokyo, Japan
Employees: ~30,000
Owner: Mitsubishi Group
Subsidiaries: Mitsubishi Motors North America (formerly DiamondStar Motors)

Mitsubishi Motor Company Contact Information

North America

Phone: 888.648.7820

Mailing Address
Mitsubishi Motors North America, Inc.
Box 6400
Cypress, CA 90630-9998

JD Laukkonen

JD Laukkonen turned wrenches in the north end of Seattle for a decade, so he's no stranger to the inner workings of modern automobiles. He has worked as a freelance writer since closing his shop in 2007, and he currently covers automotive technology for Lifewire.com.

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