The History of Mitsubishi

Mitsubishi as an automobile manufacturer was born as one branch of a multi-industry concern, one of the pre-war zaibatsu, a large corporation involved in oil refining, light industry, shipbuilding, metallurgy, real estate, insurance and much more. Even a brewery was part of Mitsubishi's sphere of interest. For example, the famous Japanese beer brand Kirin owes its origin to Mitsubishi. This versatile giant was founded by an enterprising descendant of samurai Yataro Iwasaki, who was born in 1835 and started working as a teenager in a ship-owning company belonging to Tosa samurai clan, where he reached certain career heights and at the age of 35 (in 1870) created his own company, leasing three steamships from Tosa and calling his brainchild Tsukumo Shokai. Then the name was changed - in 1872 to Mitsukawa Shokai, in 1874 to Mitsubishi Shokai, and finally in 1875 to Mitsubishi Mail Steamship Company.

The word 'mitsubishi' translates as 'three diamonds' and comes from Yataro's chosen emblem for his company. The emblem turned out this way: Yataro combined his clan's coat of arms (three rhombuses one above the other) and the Tosa clan's coat of arms (oak leaves). By the way, for many years there was controversy as to why Yataro Iwasaki did not use his own surname in the company's name. It is not because he was modest and is described as an arrogant, aggressive executive, but rather because he owes his initial achievements to the Tosa clan, which he would have never made without his family. So the Tosa clan, or rather its emblem, is the reason why we now drive Mitsubishi cars instead of Iwasaki ones. The emblem has a semantic content: three diamonds symbolize the three principles of the company: responsibility to society, honesty, and openness to international cooperation.

Mitsubishi, like other samurai corporations, in pre-war times adhered to the state policy. And as in the end of 19th century and in the First World War Japan adhered to aggressive military strategy, Mitsubishi took the most active part in building army, producing planes and military ships. Automobile industry at that time was not considered lucrative - the few cars produced in Japan were assembled by hand, which took a lot of time and effort. But in 1917, Mitsubishi produced its famous Model A, the first Japanese car to be assembled on an assembly line. Although it was not in demand and was discontinued in 1921, the public appreciated it so much that it became an exhibit at the Japan Industrial Exhibition in 1922.

At the end of World War II, in 1945, anticipating defeat, Koyata Iwasaki (the fourth president of Mitsubishi from the Iwasaki family, had headed the concern in 1916) sold about half of the shares to private investors and made peace-loving statements. However, it did not help - the Iwasaki family lost full control over Mitsubishi, and after the war the occupation authorities forcibly began to split the zaibatsu into small companies - to avoid the revival of the military-industrial power of Japan. In 1946 Mitsubishi was split into 44 independent companies, and in 1950 Mitsubishi Heavy Industries was split into three regional companies involved in car development and production.

In the 1990s, sports victories of Mitsubishi-branded cars continued - the Pajero won one rally after another. In 1990, a sports model GTO (3000GT) appeared, which has become very popular. In the U.S., it became the best imported car in 1991 according to Motor Trend magazine. But, besides achievements in sports, the company was engaged in technological developments - the Sigma and Diamante launched in 1990, were the first models with TRC - Traction Control System. In the same year production of Minica Toppo began; by the end of the same year Mitsubishi has become the world's largest manufacturer of trucks. Sigma and Diamante became cars of the year in Japan in 1990-1991. 1991 was marked by the introduction of the RVR (Space Runner) model, the second generation Pajero, which installed new technology - Super Select 4WD and multi-mode ABS system and the Strada (L200) pickup. Mitsubishi established patronage over the festival in Bregenz (Austria) and became the official automotive supplier of the Universiade in Sapporo. Do not forget to use Mitsubishi VIN decoder in order to avoid potential problems when buying a used car.

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