Mitsubishi automotive’s history dates back to 1917 when Mitsubishi Shipbuilding Co. Ltd introduced Japan’s first series-production automobile. The Mitsubishi Model A was based on the Fiat Tipo 3. That, however, was quite a failure and was discontinued in 1921. Then about 50 years later, in 1970, Mitsubishi Motors Corporation was formed from the automotive division of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.
A year later, MHI sold 15% of the company’s shares to Chrysler as part of their strategy to improve exports. As part of the deal, Chrysler rebadged Mitsubishi’s Galant and sold it in the US as Dodge Colt. This pushed MMC’s annual production numbers beyond 250,000. Then in 1977, Chrysler introduced the Galant in the Australian market with the name Chrysler Sigma.
As a matter of fact, it was this very Galant which was sold as the Dodge Challenger in South America and as the Plymouth Sapporo in the States. Consequently, in the ‘80s MMC was able to push their presence in the US so much that by 1989 Mitsubishi’s worldwide production had reached 1.5 million units. By 1992 Chrysler owed less than 3% of the equity stake in Mitsubishi Motors, which had entered into a partnership with rival car manufacturer Volvo.
It even went on a joint venture with companies like Volkswagen and Suzuki to cater to its market in Europe and Indonesia respectively. Though, none of its partnerships were as fruitful as its alliance with Nissan. But before that, in 2011, Mitsubishi was already the sixth largest Japanese car-maker in the world. From 2016 onwards, Nissan has owned 34% shares of the company, making it part of the Nissan-Renault-Mitsubishi Alliance.
Besides making some of the most iconic cars like the Lancer and Eclipse, Mitsubishi has had several championships under its belt too. Not only has it won several circuit races but also many off-roading championships. The most notable victories include Macau Grand Prix and East African Safari Rally. The company even had a 30 year long partnership with Jackie Chan. Currently, MMC’s cars are manufactured, assembled and sold in as many as 160 countries worldwide.