Mitsubishi Motors Corporation is a Japanese multinational automobile manufacturing company. It’s the 16th largest automotive manufacturer in the world. Mitsubishi has a long history of innovation and their cars are known for being very affordable and eco-friendly, though in recent years both sales and quality have declined. Consumer Reports went so far as to rank Mitsubishi as the fifth worst car brand of 2017. Still, the brand itself remains recognizable and relevant, and Mitsubishi has made great contributions to the automobile industry as a whole.
Mitsubishi (then known as the Mitsubishi Shipbuilding Company) started manufacturing automobiles over 100 years ago in 1917. Their first vehicle was the Mitsubishi Model-A, and it was the first mass-production car in Japanese history. In 1962, Mitsubishi entered its first ever international motorsports event with the Mitsubishi 500 Super Deluxe. They set a track record and would go on to win many more awards, including multiple Grand Prix titles.
Source: Youtube (Model A)
Mitsubishi was also the first ever automaker to mass market an electric vehicle. They also designed the world’s first electronically-controlled Traction Control System, which is now a required safety feature in a number of countries, including the United States.
Though Mitsubishi has pioneered many important automotive innovations throughout the years, its reputation and sales have recently suffered. In 2002, Mitsubishi underwent a major safety scandal that tarnished Mitsubishi’s reputation. Mitsubishi’s sales nosedived and never recovered. They shut down all U.S. production in 2015 and sales declined globally. In 2016, Nissan took a controlling 34 percent stake of Mitsubishi. They have since released a six-year plan to release a dozen new fully-electric models and 40 new cars with autonomous-driven technology.
Why is it called Mitsubishi?
I’ll be honest, I was surprised by this one. I was wholly expecting Mitsubishi to be named after some Mr. Mitsubishi who founded the company. (Like this other Japanese car company – spoiler, sorry.) But it’s not! Shows how much Japanese I know.
The name “Mitsubishi” consists of two parts: “mitsu” and “hishi.” When you put them together in one word, you get “Mitsubishi,” since the “h” sound becomes a “b” in Japanese when it occurs in the middle of a word. “Mitsu” means “three” and “bishi” means “water chestnut.” Seems a little weird, but Japanese use the word “bishi” to denote a rhombus or diamond shape. So, Mitsubishi means “three diamonds.”
In this case, the iconic Mitsubishi logo preceded the unique name. The three-diamond mark itself is somewhat a combination of the of Mitsubishi founder Yataro Iwasaki’s family crest and the three-leaf crest of his first employer, the Tosa Clan.
SEE ALSO: Why is Toyota Called Toyota?
Image from mitsubishielectric.com
Can you think of any other brands whose logos came before their name? Are Mitsubishi’s big plans enough for it to recover? Comment below!
Emma Roberts is a freelance writer and editor who is passionate about learning, traveling, and language. She received her bachelor’s degree in Sociology at Brigham Young University.