History of Mitsubishi

A century of Mitsubishi automobiles

Our story began in 1870 with the founding of a shipping trading company by Yataro Iwasaki. In 1917, we produced our first passenger vehicle. Fifty years later in 1970, the automotive division was separated from Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.

In 2017, Mitsubishi automobiles celebrated its 100th year anniversary. Throughout all that time, Mitsubishi automobiles has contributed to the global community by developing new technologies and tackling new domains.

100 years of automotive experience


We produce the Model-A, Japan’s first series production passenger car.


Production began of the PX-33, Japan’s first 4WD diesel passenger car prototype.


– We began producing the Mizushima XTM1, a 0.4-ton capacity three-wheeler cargo carrier. Production continued right up until 1962.

– Production began of the Silver Pigeon C-10, Japan’s first two-wheel scooter.


The Leo was launched, a small three-wheel vehicle available in both truck and van styles.


The Mitsubishi 500 was launched, the first compact four-wheel passenger car.


The launch of the Mitsubishi 360, a light four-wheel passenger car powered by a fuel-sipping 359cc engine.


The launch of the Colt 600, the first Mitsubishi model to bear the Colt name, and the Minica, the name for the micro-compact cars in this series.


The launch of the Colt 1000, Mitsubishi’s first mass-production 4-door sedan.


This year saw the launch of the Colt 800, Japan’s first fastback.


The Colt 1000F and Colt 1100 go into production.


The new Colt 1200 and the Colt 1500 go into production.


We began producing the Delica, a cab-over-type commercial vehicle and the forerunner of the first generation of the Mitsubishi L300.


The launch of the first in the Galant series, the Colt Galant.


– Production begins of the Colt Galant GTO-MI, -MII and -MR. This was the car that caused a sensation at the 1969 Tokyo Motor Show.

– Production begins on the Colt Galant 2-Door Hardtop, Mitsubishi’s first hardtop.


Mitsubishi Motors Corporation is established.


The launch of the first of the Lancer series.


The Lancer 1600GSR debuts and reigns at the 8th Australian Southern Cross Rally with a 1-2-3-4 place sweep!


We produce the second generation of the Galant.


The third generation Galant goes into production.


– Mitsubishi expands it’s light commercial vehicle line-up with the production of the L200 (Forte) a 1-ton pickup.

– The Mirage (Colt) is launched, Mitsubishi’s first FF2-box car.


Production begins of the first of the L300 series (the second generation Delica).


– Production begins of the fourth generation Gallant.

– Production begins of the L200 4WD vehicle.


The year that saw the launch of the Pajero, Japan’s first turbocharger equipped diesel, multi-purpose 4WD vehicle.


– We produced the fifth generation Galant, featuring an FF format for the first time.

– The Chariot was launched. This was Mitsubishi Motor’s new mid-sized multi-use vehicle with seating for up to seven people.

– Production begins of the third generation Lancer.

– We produce the new Colt (Mirage), the first full model change.


Produced the Galant 4-door Hardtop, Mitsubishi’s first 4-door hardtop.


Launch of the Lancer Station Wagon (Mirage/Lancer Van).


– Production of the third generation L300 (Delica) begins.

– Production of the Lancer Station Wagon with full-time 4WD begins.


Production begins on the sixth generation Galant, featuring the Dynamic Four.


Production begins of the fifth generation Lancer and Galant Hatchback.

The Galant VR-4 was the first vehicle to feature an Active Electronically Controlled Suspension (ECS).


– Launch of the 3000GT(GTO), a super 4WD sports car powered by a 3.0L V6 twin- turbo engine.

– Launch of the Sigma /Diamante car. This was Mitsubishi’s entry into the upper-medium executive saloon class. It featured Mitsubishi-developed Traction Control System and was the first application of this technology in the world. It won the 1990-1991 Japan Car of the Year.


– Production begins of the second generation Pajero (Montero), featuring Mitsubishi’s new technology, Super Select 4WD and Multi-mode ABS.

– Launch of the Space Runner (RVR), a new offering for the growing SUV market.

– Production begins of the sixth generation Lancer.


Mitsubishi Motors introduces the MIVEC engine (Mitsubishi Innovative Valve timing Electronic Control system), which improves performance and fuel efficiency.


– The year that saw the launch of the first generation of the Lancer Evolution.

– The seventh generation Galant goes into production.

– Launch of the FTO, a new sports car featuring INVECS-II & Sports Mode automatic transmission with 1.8L/2.0L V6 engine. It wins 1996-1997 Japan Car of the Year.


– Launch of the L200 pick-up, manufactured in Thailand.

– Production begins of the seventh generation Lancer.


– The Challenger was launched, a new 4WD SUV.

– Production begins of the eighth generation Galant/Galant Station Wagon. It wins 1996-1997 Japanese Car of the Year.


Production commences of the third generation Pajero (Montero).


The legendary Lancer re-enters the market with a stunning new look.


– We launch the Outlander, a mid-size SUV with V6 MIVEC engine and INVECS-III Sport Mode 6-speed CVT transmission.

– We launched the fourth generation Space Wagon (Grandis).


– Our new pickup truck L200 (Triton/Strada) is launched. It’s a global strategic vehicle manufactured in Thailand.

– We launch i, a small car with a radical new design. It wins several awards, including the 2006-2007 Japanese Good Design Grand Prix.

– Production begins of the fourth generation Pajero (Montero).


– We launch the Lancer Evolution X. It wins a 2007-2008 special prize in Car of the Year Japan.

– The new Lancer (Lancer EX) is launched. It combines the inverted slant nose traditional on MMC sedans and a trapezoidal grille.


We launch the Pajero Sport (also called Montero Sport/Nativa)


We launched the i-MiEV, the world’s first mass-produced new generation 100% electric vehicle. It wins the 2009-2010 Car of the Year Japan’s “Most Advanced Technology” Special Achievement Award.


The newly developed power-efficient Twin Clutch Sport Shift Transmission (TC-SST), was a 6-speed automated manual transmission incorporating a dual automated clutch system to deliver lightning fast shifting for feel-good acceleration.

S-AWC (Super All Wheel Control) was specifically developed for the Lancer Evolution.


The year we launched the ASX (also called Outlander Sport/RVR).


– Production begins of the Mirage (Space Star) in Thailand, designed to be a global compact car.

– The i-MiEV Evolution all-electric race car takes 2nd place at the 2012 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb in the United States.

– We launched the new Outlander, a mid-size SUV which reflects every facet of Mitsubishi’s car-building technology and knowledge.


We launch the OUTLANDER PHEV, the world’s first Plug-in Hybrid SUV.


The MiEV Evolution III wins first and second place in Pikes Peak International Hill Climb’s EV prototype division, beating the previous course record by more than 30 seconds.


Mitsubishi Motors tests its EV and Twin-Motor 4WD technologies in the Baja Portalegre 500 a cross-country race in Portugal. It set the fastest time in three out of five segments, all using the OUTLANDER PHEV.

The OUTLANDER PHEV enters the Asia Cross-Country Rally. It’s the first PHEV to ever reach the finish line.


We Launch the Eclipse Cross. It’s an all-new compact SUV coupé, and it joins Mitsubishi Motors’ global lineup of crossover SUVs.


To be continued…

Staying true to our design philosophy of honesty, robustness and Japanese craftsmanship, we’ll continue to build impressive mobility solutions. Not just now, but for the future.