Over 100 Years of Mitsubishi Innovation | The History of Mitsubishi Motors

Over 100 Years of Mitsubishi Innovation

Mitsubishi Technology

The Mitsubishi technology you see in today’s vehicles didn’t happen overnight. For over 100 years, Mitsubishi Motors has been a leader in automotive innovation. Let Vern Eide Mitsubishi in Sioux Falls take you on a drive through history with iconic vehicles like the Galant, Lancer, and Eclipse, and find out what cars does Mitsubishi make today.

1917: Mitsubishi Model-A

Mitsubishi Shipbuilding CO., LTD. introduced the Mitsubishi Model-A in 1917. It was Japan’s first mass-produced car and it was designed as a luxury vehicle for government officials.

1962: Mitsubishi 500 Super Deluxe

In 1962, Mitsubishi Motors is invited to the Macau Grand Prix, its first entry into an international motorsports event. The Mitsubishi 500 Super Deluxe promptly sets a track record.

1970: Colt Galant GTO

Inspired by the Colt F Series, a 5-time Grand Prix winner, the new Galant GTO is introduced to Japan in 1970. The Galant GTO is the blueprint for what will eventually become the iconic Lancer Evolution.

1971: Dodge Colt

Not only does Mitsubishi Motors sell its first car in America in 1971, rebadged as the Dodge Colt, but 1971 also marks a sixth Grand Prix title win for Mitsubishi Motors thanks to the Colt F2000 Formula race car.

1973: Mitsubishi Lancer 1600GSR

In 1973, Lancer’s debut year, the Lancer 1600GSR wins a fourth Rally title for Mitsubishi Motors with a First-Second-Third-place sweep of Australia’s Southern Cross Rally.

1976: Silent Shaft Engine Technology

Mitsubishi develops its groundbreaking Silent Shaft engine technology in 1976 and licenses the patents to Fiat, Porsche, and Saab.

1980: Turbocharged Diesel

In 1980, the world’s first Turbo Diesel engine with Silent Shaft technology is engineered by Mitsubishi Motors.

Mitsubishi Turbocharged Diesel Engine

1982: Tredia, Cordia, and Starion

Mitsubishi Motors makes its American debut in 1982 with the release of the Mitsubishi Tredia, Mitsubishi Cordia, and Mitsubishi Starion.

1983: Montero Pajero

In 1983, the Montero Pajero rewrites the endurance racing history books by winning the triple crown in its first appearance at the Paris-Dakar Rally, recognized as one of the world’s toughest races.

1987: Mitsubishi Galant VR-4

With the introduction of its Active Electronically Controlled Suspension (ECS) in 1987, the Galant VR-4 earns Mitsubishi Motors’ first Car of the Year award in Japan.

1989: Motor Trend Car of the Year

The Mitsubishi Galant VR-4 is named Motor Trend Magazine’s Import Car of the Year in 1989 after winning both the RAC Rally and WRC 1000 Lakes Rally.

1990: Mitsubishi 3000GT and Eclipse

This is a monumental year for Mitsubishi Motorcars. Not only does the Eclipse make its American debut in 1990, but Mitsubishi also launches the legendary 3000GT (GTO). In the same year, Mitsubishi Motors will introduce the world’s first electronically-controlled Traction Control System, which would later become a legally required safety feature in the United States and many other countries.

1992: Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution

Mitsubishi Motors has another landmark year in 1992 with its release of the iconic Lancer Evolution, introducing next-gen MIVEC engine technology that maximizes fuel efficiency without sacrificing engine performance, and winning Adaptive Shift Control Technology of the Year at the Japan Car Research and Journalist Conference.

1996: Gasoline Direct Injection Engine

In 1996, Mitsubishi Motors takes the lead in eco-friendly engineering by developing the first Gasoline Direct Injection (GDI) engine in the world.

Mitsubishi Gasoline Direct Injection GDI Engine

1998: Mitsubishi’s Year in Racing

1998 is a landmark year for Mitsubishi Motors racing with Lancer Evolution’s victory at the WRC, Montero’s top-four sweep of the Dakar Rally, and an FIA World Class Cup Cross-Country Rally win.

1999: FTO-EV World Record

After becoming the first electric car to travel 2,000 kilometers in 24 hours the FTO-EV prototype earns a Guinness Book Record in 1999.

2003: Lancer Evolution in the U.S.

In 2003, the Lancer Evolution with All-Wheel-Control arrives in the United States and gets honored as 2003 Automobile of the Year by Automobile magazine.

2005: 4th Gen Eclipse and Outlander

The 4th Generation Eclipse (based on the Eclipse Concept E) is released and it wins a 2005 Industry Design Excellence Award. Mitsubishi Motors also renews its commitment to green technology by launching the world’s first compact SUV to offer an eco-friendly PZEV V6 engine: the Outlander.

2007: Lancer Evolution X

Upon its launch in 2007, the Lancer Evolution X with Super All-Wheel Control wins Car of the Year in Japan. Mitsubishi Motors also wins the Dakar Rally in 2007 for a record-setting 7th straight year.

2008: Drive@Earth

Drive@Earth is announced by Mitsubishi Motors in an effort to combine emissions-reducing technologies like EV and PHEV with corporate initiatives to preserve and sustain the global environment.

2009: Mitsubishi i-MiEV

In 2009, the production version of the 2010 Mitsubishi Innovative Electric Vehicle (i-MiEV) is released to numerous markets across the globe after 40+ years of development.

Mitsubishi Electric Vehicle i-MiEV

2010: Mitsubishi PX-MiEV

Mitsubishi Motors reveals the PX-MiEV concept vehicle to the public. The PX-MiEV introduces an all-new plug-in hybrid system which uses both serial and parallel hybrid technologies to minimize emissions and fuel consumption while maximizing on-road performance.

2012: 30th Anniversary in the U.S.

Not only does 2012 represent 30 years of Mitsubishi Motors in the United States, but it also marks the democratization of EV technology in America. The i-MiEV is named the ‘Greenest Vehicle of 2012’ by the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy and ranks #1 on the EPA’s list of Fuel Economy Leaders.

2013: Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

In 2013, the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is introduced as the world’s first plug-in hybrid SUV, winning Car of the Year’s Innovation Award in Japan and the RJC Technology of the Year Award.

2014: MiEV Evolution III

In the EV prototype division of the 2014 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, the MiEV Evolution III takes first and second place, dominating the old course record by more than 30 seconds.


2015: Baja Portalegre 500

The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV sets the fastest time in three out of five segments of the 2015 Baja Portalegre 500, proving its EV and Twin-Motor 4WD are more than capable.


2017: Outlander PHEV U.S. Debut

As it’s introduced to Mitsubishi’s American lineup in 2017, the Outlander PHEV (Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle) receives a “Best 5 All-Around Performance” award from the Automotive Science Group (ASG).


2018: Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross

The Eclipse nameplate is reimagined as a technology-based crossover as Mitsubishi launches the Eclipse Cross in 2018. It will eventually go on to win the celebrated GOOD DESIGN™* award for Design Excellence and Design Innovation by The Chicago Athenaeum.

Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross Innovation

What Cars Will Mitsubishi Make in the Future?

Can we expect more automotive firsts and engineering triumphs over the next 100 years? Yes. Mitsubishi Motors is setting its sights on the next generation of EV and connected car technology, while the eX SUV Concept will lead the way with automated driving capabilities and mile range ratings that will rival autonomous-auto pioneers like Tesla.

Mitsubishi GT PHEV and Mitsubishi eV Slider

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