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Mitsubishi Motors Corporation
Type Public
Industry Automobile manufacturing
Founded April 22, 1970
Headquarters 33-8, Shiba 5-chome, Minato, Tokyo 108-8410 Japan
Key people Takashi Nishioka (Chairman)
Osamu Masuko (President & Representative Director)
Products Automobiles and light trucks
Revenue ¥1,828,497 million (2010)[1]
Net income ¥15,621 million (2010)[1]
Employees 30,709 (2010)[2]
Parent Mitsubishi Group

Mitsubishi Motors Corporation is a multinational automaker headquartered in Minato, Tokyo.[3] In 2010 it was the sixth largest Japan-based automaker and the sixteenth largest in the world, measured by production.[4] It is part of the Mitsubishi keiretsu, formerly the biggest industrial group in Japan, and was formed in 1970 from the automotive division of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.[5]



File:Mitsubishi model a and workers.jpg
Workers at Mitsubishi Shipbuilding Co., Ltd alongside one of the prototype Mitsubishi Model A automobiles.

Mitsubishi's automotive origins date back as far as 1917, when the Mitsubishi Shipbuilding Co., Ltd. introduced the Model A, Japan's first series-production automobile.[6] An entirely hand-built seven-seater sedan based on the Fiat Tipo 3, it proved expensive compared to its American and European mass-produced rivals, and was discontinued in 1921 after only 22 had been built.[7]

In 1934, Mitsubishi Shipbuilding was merged with the Mitsubishi Aircraft Co., a company established in 1920 to manufacture aircraft engines and other parts. The unified company was known as Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI), and was the largest private company in Japan.[8] MHI concentrated on manufacturing aircraft, ships, railroad cars and machinery, but in 1937 developed the Mitsubishi PX33, a prototype sedan for military use. It was the first Japanese-built passenger car with full-time four-wheel drive, a technology the company would return to almost fifty years later in its quest for motorsport and sales success.[9]

File:Mitsubishi PX33.jpg
A 1937 Mitsubishi PX33 on display at the Mondial de l'Automobile in September 2006.

Immediately following the end of the Second World War, the company returned to manufacturing vehicles. Fuso bus production resumed, while a small three-wheeled cargo vehicle called the Mizushima and a scooter called the Silver Pigeon were also developed. However, the zaibatsu (Japan's family-controlled industrial conglomerates) were ordered to be dismantled by the Allied powers in 1950, and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries was split into three regional companies, each with an involvement in motor vehicle development: West Japan Heavy-Industries, Central Japan Heavy-Industries, and East Japan Heavy-Industries.

East Japan Heavy-Industries began importing the Henry J, an inexpensive American sedan built by Kaiser Motors, in knockdown kit (CKD) form in 1951, and continued to bring them to Japan for the remainder of the car's three year production run. The same year, Central Japan Heavy-Industries concluded a similar contract with Willys (now owned by Kaiser) for CKD-assembled Jeep CJ-3Bs. This deal proved more durable, with licensed Mitsubishi Jeeps in production until 1998, thirty years after Willys themselves had replaced the model.

By the beginning of the 1960s 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, had already re-established an automotive department in its headquarters in 1953. Now it was ready to introduce the Mitsubishi 500, a mass market sedan, to meet the new demand from consumers. It followed this in 1962 with the Mitsubishi Minica kei car and the Colt 1000, the first of its Mitsubishi Colt line of family cars, in 1963.

West Japan Heavy-Industries (now renamed Mitsubishi Shipbuilding & Engineering) and East Japan Heavy-Industries (now Mitsubishi Nihon Heavy-Industries) had also expanded their automotive departments in the 1950s, and the three were re-integrated as Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in 1964. Within three years its output was over 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 (MMC) was formed on April 22, 1970 as a wholly owned subsidiary of MHI under the leadership of Tomio Kubo, a successful engineer from the aircraft division.

The logo of three red diamonds, shared with over forty other companies within the keiretsu, predates Mitsubishi Motors itself by almost a century. It was chosen by Iwasaki Yatarō, the founder of Mitsubishi, as it was suggestive of the emblem of the Tosa Clan who first employed him, and because his own family crest was three rhombuses stacked atop each other. The name Mitsubishi is a portmanteau of mitsu ("three") and hishi (literally, "water chestnut", often used in Japanese to denote a diamond or rhombus).[10]


List of Mitsubishi models

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  1. 1.0 1.1 "Consolidated Financial Results for FY 2010 Full Year (April 1, 2010 through March 31, 2011) [Japan GAAP"], Mitsubishi Motors website, Apr 27, 2011
  2. "Company Overview / Investor Information", Mitsubishi Motors website
  3. Corporate Profile, Mitsubishi Motors website, June 19, 2008
  4. Organisation Internationale des Constructeurs d'Automobiles, World Motor Vehicle Production by manufacturer (2010),
  5. History of Mitsubishi, Funding Universe (subscription required)
  6. "Mitsubishi Motors Corporation - Overview", Mitsubishi Motors North America website
  7. "The Greatest Japanese Cars Of All Time", Michael Frank,, April 23, 2001
  8. "The origin of MHI can be traced all the way back to 1884", Mitsubishi Heavy Industries History
  9. "History of Mitsubishi, 1870-1939, Mitsubishi Motors website
  10. "The Mitsubishi Mark",


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