Mitsubishi Motor’s automotive tradition goes back to 1917 when its Model A, Japan’s first series-production automobile, was introduced. Over the next two decades the company developed amongst others, Japan’s first diesel engine, its first large-sized bus (the Fuso series), its first four-wheel drive passenger car prototype, and its first diesel-powered truck. In early 1960s, the Mitsubishi 500 met the need of family motoring. This was followed by the four-seater micro-compact two-stroke air-cooled 359cc engine Minica, which is still around, the Colt – a larger family car, and the Galant.
Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (MMC) was formed in 1970 to focus on the automotive industry. By the end of the decade, Mitsubishi vehicles were picking up honors both at home and abroad, including South Africa’s 1977 “Car of the Year” (the Galant) and 1979 “USA’s Pick-up of the Year” (the L200). In 1982 the Pajero/ Montero was launched, a unique 4×4. Quite incredibly, just a few months later, in the Paris-Dakar rally, it took honors in the Production Class and the Marathon Class, as well as the Best Team award. Two years later it won outright and a legend was born.
Mitsubishi vehicles also began to make their mark in World Rally Championships. The Shogun became a global best-seller, winning “4×4 of the Year” awards in Britain, France, Australia, Spain and West Germany. And it was not alone on the honors list – Galant, Colts, Lancers and L200s were all being honored worldwide.
In 1990, MMC introduced the world’s first Traction Control System, followed by Super Select 4WD and Multi-mode ABS in 1991 and INVECS in 1992. Commercial production of the Libero electric car began in 1994 whilst 1996 saw the development of the GDI engine. -Mitsubishi’s strength in the motor-sport 4×4 heritage was demonstrated by a record breaking 12th victory in the 2007 Dakar rally – its seventh successive victory.