Mitsubishi Motor Corporation is a multinational automobile manufacturer. It produces a diverse vehicle lineup, including sedans, hatchbacks, SUVs and crossovers, and electric vehicles sold in 160 countries worldwide.
Headquartered in Tokyo, the organization owns six manufacturing facilities in four countries, including those of subsidiaries. Its global network is further extended through affiliated companies and business partners that collectively give Mitsubishi access to 11 car plants in nine countries and seven engine, transmission and parts production facilities in five countries. Furthermore, Mitsubishi Motors has access to nine research, development, and design centers in five countries.
Mitsubishi Motor Corporation traces its roots to a Japanese shipping firm founded by Yataro Iwasaki in 1870, two years after the Meiji Restoration. The company initially diversified into fields related to shipping, buying a shipbuilding yard from the government, establishing an iron mill, venturing into coal-mining, and putting up a marine insurance business, among others.
Mitsubishi's foray into the automotive industry began in 1917, with the introduction of the Mitsubishi Model A, a hand-built seven-seater sedan that was designed after the Fiat Tipo 3. However, only 22 units were built as it proved expensive compared to the mass-produced cars from American and European manufacturers. In 1934, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries was established to focus on the development of aircrafts, automobiles, tanks, and buses. The organization would manufacture mainly aircrafts, shifts, railroad cars, and machinery in the ensuing years, but in in 1937, it developed the PX33, the first Japanese-built passenger car with full-time four-wheel drive.
Mitsubishi temporarily closed shop during the Second World War but made a comeback in 1954. In 1970, Mitsubishi Motors Corporation was established. In a bid to increase exports, Mitsubishi sold in 15% share to U.S. car maker Chrysler in 1971. This allowed the latter to sell the Galant in the United States as Dodge Colt and eventually across Europe. The increased geographical reach of their products pushed annual production from 250,000 units annually at the start of the decade to close to one million units toward the end of it.
By 1980, Chrysler was battling a potential bankruptcy, so it sold its Australian Operations to Mitsubishi. The Japanese car maker was able to launch its own brand in the U.S. market in 1982, with the Tredia sedan, the Cordia, and the Starion coupes. In 1988, Mitsubishi Motors went public, with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries remaining the largest single stockholder but reducing its share to 25% and Chrysler increasing its stake to over 20%. The capital raised from the initial public offering was used to expand the company's operations throughout Southeast Asia, where Mitsubishi has manufacturing operations in Malaysia, the Philippines, and Thailand.
In 2016, Nissan acquired 34% controlling interest in Mitsubishi, bringing the latter into the Renault-Nissan Alliance.
Mitsubishi Motors Philippines Corporation (MMPC) is the longest staying automotive manufacturer in the Philippines. Mitsubishi's entry into the local market began with the incorporation of Chrysler Philippines Corporation in 1963, with assembly operations following suit in the following year. The newly minted organization produced models such as the Dodge Colt, Minica F4, Lancer, Cimarron, and Mitsubishi trucks. Chrysler Philippines Corporation was later renamed Canlubang Automotive Resources (CARGO) in 1978.
Seven years later, Mitsubishi Motors Corporation and Iwai Corp., known today as Sojitz Corporation, acquired 100% ownership of CARCO and incorporated the Philippine Automotive Manufacturing Corp. (PAMCOR) two years later. In 1996, Mitsubishi acquired 51% shares of PAMCOR, which was officially changed to Mitsubishi Motors Philippines Corporation. Fast forward to 2018, Sojitz sold its 49% stake in MMPC to parent company, Mitsubishi Motors Corporation of Japan, making the Philippines operations a 100% wholly-owned subsidiary.
In 2015, MMPC moved its operations to Sta. Rosa, Laguna, buying Ford's shuttered car plant. The Sta. Rosa plant has 23 hectares worth of land area and 120,500 square meters of building area. The firm's assembly plant in the said property can produce 50,000 units per year, and this can still be scaled to 100,000 units per year. The organization also has a subsidiary, the Asian Transmission Corp. (ATC), located in Calamba, Laguna, that has been manufacturing auto components since 1973.
Mitsubishi has a wide roster of car offerings, including passenger vehicles, light commercial vehicles, trucks and buses. It has produced several popular nameplates, most notably the Mirage, the Montero Sport, the Pajero, and the Strada.
The Mirage, a subcompact hatchback, has been serving the Philippine market since 2012 and is one of Mitsubishi's bestselling models in the country for several years now. Carrying a relatively fuel-efficient engine – a 1.2-liter DOHC MIVEC gasoline mated to either a five-speed manual or a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) -- and an attractive price tag, this model has become a popular choice especially among city dwellers. The Mirage is also available in sedan version, called the Mirage G4.
Another top-selling nameplate from Mitsubishi is the Montero Sport, a mid-sized SUV known for versatility and great off-road skills coupled with luxurious interiors. It is available in 2.4-liter, four-cylinder engine that works with turbocharged formula for added power. It is available in two-wheel drive and four-wheel drive options mated to either an eight-speed automatic or six-speed manual gearbox.
The Pajero is one iconic name in the SUV segment, although the lack of any major update has pushed interested buyers to explore other offerings available in the market. The only trim available for the Pajero at present uses a 3.2-liter four-cylinder engine attached to a five-speed automatic gearbox. Nonetheless, many car enthusiasts continue to be drawn to this model's sound combination of elegant styling and great off-road capability.
The Strada is one of the most prominent brands in the compact pickup truck segments. This workhorse often doubles as a family or lifestyle vehicle, thanks to its stylish and comfortable interiors. Prospective buyers can choose between a 2.5-liter or a 2.4-liter engine variant paired with either a manual or an automatic gearbox. The 2.5-liter engine Strada is offered in either rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive variant.
Other prominent offerings from Mitsubishi include the Lancer and the Adventure, which, unfortunately, were discontinued after 2017. The Lancer, a compact sedan that was introduced to Philippine car buyers in 1973. Since then, it had become a household name, especially among working professionals. Mitsubishi ended production of the Lancer as it shifted its focus to SUVs.
The Adventure, on the other hand, is a popular MUV in the Philippines. Mitsubishi ceased from manufacturing the Adventure starting 2018 even though there is still as significant demand for the model. This move was due to the government's mandate that all engines should be able to use Euro-4 compliant fuels – the adventure could only use Euro-2 compliant fuel.
Apart from these four models, Mitsubishi Motors also makes available for the Philippine market the XPANDER, a seven-seater MPV, and the L200 van. It also offers several Fuso trucks and buses, including the Canter, the F1217R, and the Rosa. Meanwhile, Mitsubishi Motors has announced that the currently phased-out L300 will make a comeback in 2019, this time carrying a Euro 4 engine.
Initial estimates peg Mitsubishi's global sales at 1.25 million units in 2018; this represents a 14% growth from its 2017 output. Much of the growth came from North America and Asia. In terms of geographical distribution, Asia represents 40% of the total sales volume during the period, mainly attributed to a strong outing from the XPANDER in markets such as Indonesia, pick-up trucks in Thailand, and the Outlander, especially in China.
China, followed by the United States, Indonesia, and Japan are the company's biggest contributing countries in terms of sales volume. In terms of production volume, Japan tops the list, followed by Thailand and China at far third.
In the Philippines, Mitsubishi Motors is the second largest car brand based on sales volume, behind Toyota. According to figures from the Association of Vehicle Importers and Distributors (AVID), Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines (CAMPI), and the Truck Manufacturers Association (TMA), the Japanese car maker had a total sales volume of 33,506 units in the first half of 2018. This translates to a 17.45% market share, with Mitsubishi coming in far second to Toyota, which contributed 38.08% of total market sales.
MMPC is a participant in the six-year program called Comprehensive Automotive Resurgence Strategy (CARS), starting in 2017. MMPC targets to build 100,000 vehicles by the end of the program, which will see the production of Mirage sedans and other nameplates at the Mitsubishi Plant in Sta. Rosa, Laguna. As part of the program's first phase, Mitsubishi built a stamping facility, which boasts of the first machine in the country with at least 2,000 tons of stamping pressure. Inaugurated in February 2018, it serves to improve production capacity to a maximum of 35,000 units of Mirage and the Mirage 4 every year. The first phase of this program built a stamping facility, which was inaugurated in February 2018. The new stamping equipment improves production capacity to a maximum of 35,000 units of Mirage and the Mirage G4 annually. Currently, Philippine-built versions of these models have 35% local content, and MMPC aims to further increase this figure. Meanwhile, a paint shop is slated for the second phase of the CARS program.