What happened to Mitsubishi? image

Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (MMC) used to be one of the biggest carmakers out there with models copied out eventually by the competition but it seems that the company is going down the hill these days as its vehicles are no longer appreciated and it cannot come with anything new and interesting.

Mitsubishi is part of the Mitsubishi keiretsu, which was the biggest industrial group in Japan, being formed back in 1970, from the automotive division of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. I’m sure not many of you remember the 1937 Mitsubishi PX33 or the company’s post-war era but you do remember the Chrysler connection from the 1970s, which produced vehicles such as the Dodge Colt, the first rebadged Mitsubishi product sold by Chrysler. Annual production has grown from 500,000 vehicles in 1973 to 965,000 cars in 1978 and in 1980, the company has achieved an annual production of one million vehicles.

The Mitsubishi brand was first introduced in America in 1982 and it sold the Tredia Sedan, the Cordia and the Stario coupes, by 70 dealers in 22 states. In 1986, MMC became the third Japanese manufacturer to begin assembling cars in China, after Daihatsu and Suzuki, so the company’s bosses were visionary. Hirokazu Nakamura has become president of Mitsubishi in 1989 and managed to steer the company in promising directions and there was a rumor that the company intended a hostile acquisition of Honda back in 1992 – 1993.

Some of the most profitable cars produced by the company included the Diamante and the Pajero and let’s not forget that the last one is still in production, several generations later, but customers demanding it have decreased considering the fact that the model hasn’t been significantly updated since 2006, even if Mitsubishi is currently calling the outgoing version “the new Pajero”. Another important vehicle, and probably the most appreciated one by car enthusiasts, is the Lancer, or the Lancer Evo to be more precise.

The current generation of the Lancer has been in production since 2007 while its top of the line version, the Evolution X, has began assembly in October, the same year. We won’t even start talking about Mitsubishi’s rivalry with Subaru’s WRX STI both in rallying and on the roads because if opinions were first equal to which one is a better car, Subaru has eventually stepped into a new era and developed a new generation of the car while Mitsubishi has remained with the old one and with no plans of putting its successor into production anytime soon.

Other vehicles made by MMC which are currently in production include the new-gen Outlander which, despite having a new body style, a new interior and new technologies, it’s not preferred by customers over the previous generation. The LS200 pickup truck has some serious competition with the Nissan Navara, with the Ford Ranger or the Volkswagen Amarok and it’s not particularly known as being to reliable. The Space Star is the company’s city vehicle, also known as the Mirage in some markets, but the truth is that despite having some similar features common to the much more expensive Outlander, it can’t compete with small cars coming in the same segment.

Mitsubishi’s plans for the future are uncertain. Some reports are stating that the company is close to coming to an end and if this will happen than chances are it will be bought by a larger carmaker. Maybe this is what MMC needs, a good revitalization in order to become competitive again so hopefully it won’t become the new Lancia, a company filled with motorsport history whose cars are no longer desired.

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