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Mitsubishi started as a shipping company in 1870 in Japan. Three years later the company received its formative name. Mitsubishi translates to "three hash", that are represented in the brand logo.
After the founder Iwasaki Yataro died in 1885, his brother expanded the business further. A conglomerate was established, which was active as in banking, commerce, real estate, space technology, and as a weapon producer during wartime.
The Yataro family grew from 70 to 200 companies in the 1930s and 1940s. After the end of the Second World War, the conglomerate crumbled. Since then, the various companies which still bear the brand names are economically independent.
Although the company was only newly founded in 1970, Mitsubishi has a history of automobile manufacture, which started at the beginning of the 20th century. Model A was in 1917 the first Japanese model. In 1931 Mitsubishi developed the first diesel engine with direct injection. The PX33 Touring Car had an all-wheel drive and had been produced in four prototypes since 1934. As a result of the war, vehicle production paused until the early 1960s.
The A10/500 model, from which over 5000 copies were produced until 1960, marked Mitsubishi's re-entry. Mitsubishi became known well with the Colt 600 since 1962. The 600 was oriented on the Goggomobil and Fiat 500. The first major sales were achieved, and Mitsubishi secured its place among the big manufacturers of Japan. The Colt was produced until 2012 in different classes and estates, for a total of six generations. The Mitsubishi Minica from 1962 was on the market for eight generations until 2011.
In the upper class, the Debonair completed the range since 1964 and was produced until 1999. The top-class mimosa was so popular in Japan that it was sold for a long time with record sales without any adaptations. 100 000 pieces were sold in 1967 alone. In the middle and compact class, the models Galant from 1969 and Lancer from 1973 were proved successful. The Mitsubishi Galant was offered up to 2004 in Germany. Today, the car is in the ninth generation on the US-market.
1977 the import to Germany began. In the same year the Lancer was for sale in Europe for the first time. The model is particularly well-known in its sporty high-performance version. Mitsubishi had won many rally titles since the sixties thanks to the Lancers.
In 1983 the brand participated for the first time in the Dakar Rally. By the end of 2007, 12 victories had been celebrated. Mitsubishi reached such an important position in motorsport. In the Rally World Cup, the brand secured four and between 1996 and 1999 even more titles, before Mitsubishi left the rally in 2009 for the time being.
At the end of the 1990s the Japanese automaker was captured by the Asian financial crisis. In 2001 DaimlerChrysler took over the company for four years. The continuous success of the Colts in Europe and the presentation of the Outlander 2006, however, saved the manufacturer from an emergency. Mitsubishi has now become a partner in diverse cooperation: since 2005 in a joint venture with DaimlerChrysler and Hyundai and therefore entered a contractual relationship with the PSA Group. Since 2016, Nissan and the Renault-Nissan Alliance have been involved in the company.
In 1988 Mitsubishi went public. The cars were getting bigger. Meanwhile the pick-up model L200 from 1978 has succeeded in the fifth generation in Germany and is also known under the name Fiat Fullback, currently traded as L200 Club Cab and L200 double cabins. The off-road vehicle Pajero, successor of the Mitsubishi Carisma, is available as a 3-door and 5-door, comes from the eighties. In addition to the Outlander, the Hybrid Outlander, the Lancer sport sedan, the Lancer Sportback, the L200 and the Pajero versions, the Electric Vehicle, Space Star and ASX the product range offers a total of seven models.
The ASX is the smallest of the large SUVs. The small car Space Star, not to be confused with the van of the same name, which was produced between 1998 and 2005, is considered as the “new Colt” since 2012. The Mitsubishi Electric Vehicle is identical with the Citroën C-ZERO and the Peugeot iOn.