Mitsubishi celebrates centennial year of the Model A


In celebration of Mitsubishi’s 100 years anniversary, Mitsubishi Motors Philippines Corp. (MMPC) will be holding a grand expo from June 8 to 11, 2017 at the World Trade Center, Pasay City. Dubbed as the Mitsubishi 100 Years Anniversary Expo this motor show promises to excite the public as it brings a one of a kind and truly memorable experience not only to Mitsubishi fans but to any car enthusiasts. The Mitsubishi 100 Years Anniversary Expo is open to public from 12 noon to 9pm on June 8 and from 10am to 9pm on June 9 to 11 and admission is free!

Mitsubishi celebrates its centennial year as being the first Japanese automotive brand having introduced its first mass-production car in Japanese history with the introduction of the Mitsubishi Model A. From shipbuilding to aviation to cars, Mitsubishi’s automotive story began in 1917 when Mitsubishi Shipbuilding Co., LTD introduced its very first car, the Mitsubishi Model A. Primarily designed to be a luxury vehicle to service government officials, the Model A marked the beginning of a century of automotive engineering firsts.

Engineering firsts and patents

The 1970s was a turbulent time for the global economy, the two major oil crisis signaled the end of the gas-guzzlers and American muscle cars. The more fuel-efficient compact cars were starting to gain wider acceptance. This led Mitsubish to introduce innovative technologies that will be used by other automakers in the decades to come.

From the late 1960s to the 1970s, Mitsubishi wasn’t only a carmaker, it became a pioneering automotive engineering company. By 1976, it introduced the innovative Silent Shaft Technology, a patented system used to reduce vibration in large displacement 4-cylinder engines. This method allowed manufacturers to produce 4-cylinder engines that operate more smoothly and perform like 6-cylinder engines. Companies like Fiat, Porsche and Saab benefitted from this licensed technology acquired from Mitsubishi and can be found in many of their engines. By 1980, Mitsubishi unveiled the world’s first energy-saving turbo diesel engine with Silent Shaft Technology.

In 1982, Mitsubishi developed its own variable displacement system called the “Modulated Displacement Technology” (MD) that was first succesfully used in its 1.4 L 4G12 straight-4 engine. This variable displacement was considered a world first since Cadillac’s ill-fated attempt on its L-62 engine proved to be a failure. Later on, this technology was applied to Mitsubishi’s V6 engines. By 1996 though, this feature was discontinued due to lack interest in the market.

Another groundbreaking technology was introduced in 1987 when Mitsubishi unveiled the Galant VR-4 as the first vehicle to feature an Active Electronically Controlled Suspension (ECS) that earned Mitsubishi Motors’ first Car of the Year award in Japan.

In 1989, Mitsubishi became the first automaker to use five valves per cylinder in its 548cc 3G81 engine that was used in the Minica Dangan ZZ “kei” car. The following year, Mitsubishi Motors introduced the world’s first electronically-controlled Traction Control System, a feature that would be legislated in many countries including the US as a required safety feature. This feature was first installed in the Mitsubishi Sigma in 1990.

In the same year, Mitsubishi developed the Traction Control Logic (TCL), an electronically controlled active trace and traction control system, which was considered as the first integration of these two systems in the world. This system was first featured in the Diamante (Sigma model) in Japan. This precursor system later on evolved into Mitsubishi’s modern Active Skid and Traction Control (ASTC) system.

In 1991, Mitsubishi became the first company to offer its Super Select System for its four wheel drive systems. Although hardcore 4X4 enthusiasts were initially hesistant to accept this feature, saying that it is over complicated and unnecessary, the system proved to be popular over the years.

First fitted to Shogun and Pajero models, these range of options which included the ability to have permanent 2-wheel drive or permanent 4-wheel drive and low range, allows the driver to use either 2wd or 4wd on the road using an electronically controlled center differential that adapts to the prevailing road conditions. The Super Select System essentially has four modes – in 2 wheel drive mode, it works as any conventional 2Wd system and only powers the rear wheels. For its 4H (2 High) mode, it offers a permanent 4WD system and can be used in any conditions on or off road, with and is recommended that you use this when towing heavy loads. Its 4H locked center differential is used for off road or icy/snowy road conditions while its 4L (4 Low) mode is used in more extreme off road conditions. This system was further enhanced and by 2007, a more complex system dubbed as Super Select II was introduced on its Pajero, Challenger, Triton and Delica models.

Mitsubishi Motors also received more accolades with its INVECS (Intelligent & Innovative Vehicle Electronic Control System) which adapts to a person’s driving habits and was named Adaptive Shift Control Technology of the Year by Japan Car Research and Journalist Conference in 1992. Further to this, its development on controlled valve timing on its engines that offers higher power output, lower fuel consumption and lower exhaust emissions have paid off through its MIVEC (Mitsubishi Innovative Valve timing Electronic Control system) that was first used in 1992 in the Mirage model. It also launched the world’s first Gasoline Direct Injection (GDI) engine that offers higher performance and better fuel efficiency in 1996. Fast forward to 2010, Mitsubishi unveiled the MIVEC 4N1 engine as the world’s first to feature a variable valve timing (intake side) system applied to passenger car diesel engines.

First mass market EV

With Mitsubishi’s strong electrical and electronic engineering background, it began its research and development on electric vehicles as early as the 1960s, setting the stage for Mitsubishi Motors to be the first automaker ever to mass market an electric vehicle (EV) in 1970. This became the brand’s precursor to its MiEV electric vehicle technology. Back then, it built over a thousand unit of these Minica EVs that provided green mobility to power companies and the Japanese government. The Minica EV was based on the popular gas engine powered microcar that was first introduced in 1962 as a two-door sedan based on its 360 light truck, that used a 359 cc two-cylinder engine.

Mitsubishi’s EV development progressed and the succeeding decades saw more EV models being used in other models including the Mini Cab EV, Delica EV, Minica Econo EV, Lidero EV and the Expo plug-in hybrid electric vehicle until the 1990s. After the mid-1990s, Mitsubishi developed more powerful and efficient EVs after shifting from lead batteries to more reliable, longer lasting and quicker-charging lithium ion battery packs.

With better technology and global awareness on climate change in the 1990s, Mitsubishi refocused its engineering and R&D efforts on sustainable energy platforms on vehicles. Its FTO-EV prototype took a Guinness World Record by being the first electric car to travel 2,000 kilometers in 24 hours, beating the previous record by 300km in 1999.

In 2005, it launched the Outlander as the world’s first compact SUV to offer an environmentally friendly PZEV V6 engine, reaffirming Mitsubishi Motors’ dedication to pioneering green technology. With its i-MiEV technology, Mitsubishi was ranked number one by the US government’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) list of Fuel Economy Leaders and was named the “Greenest Vehicle of 2012” by the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy. In 2013, Mitsubishi Motors introduced the Outlander PHEV, the world’s first Plug-in Hybrid SUV, winning the RJC Technology of the Year Award and Car of the Year’s Innovation Award in Japan.

Mitsubishi in motorsport

In 1962 proved to be a pivotal year for Mitsubishi Motors, where it made a huge mark with its first foray into an international motorsports event at the Macau Grand Prix, setting a track record with the Mitsubishi 500 Super Deluxe. It was also the first vehicle to be aerodynamically tested in a wind tunnel in Japan.

In 1970, the new Galant GTO was bred from the five-time Grand Prix-winning Colt F Series, and was launched in Japan that will eventually lead to the iconic Lancer Evolution. The following year Mitsubishi Motors sold its first car in America, rebadged as the Dodge Colt. The Colt nameplate continues its winning streak, with the Colt F2000 Formula racecar, engineered with Mitsubishi’s aerospace technology, won its sixth Grand Prix title. The Lancer 1600GSR made its debut in 1973, dominating the Australian Southern Cross Rally with a 1st, 2nd and 3rd place sweep, garnering Mitsubishi Motors’ fourth Rally title overall.

After nine iterations of its highly successful Lancer Evolution series, it introduced the Lancer Evolution X with Super All-Wheel Control and was deemed as one of the most advanced AWD systems in the world. Integrating management of its Active Center Differential (ACD), Active Yaw Control (AYC), Active Stability Control (ASC), and Sports ABS components, while adding braking force control to Mitsubishi Motors’ own AYC system, it effectively regulates of torque and braking force at each wheel, giving its legendary cornering performance and vehicle stability regardless of driving conditions. The Evolution was a product of decades of motorsports development and it saw its golden years when Tommi Mäkinen made his first win in 1996 at Rally Sweden using a Lancer Evo III. From that point on he dominated the sport for four years, winning 18 rallies and back-to-back titles in 1996, 1997, 1998 and 1999.

Mitsubishi is also the constructor that made the most wins in the gruelling Dakar rally under the car category with a total of 12 wins under Mitsubishi -Japan between 1985 and 2007. The first Pajero prototype was unveiled at the 1973 Tokyo Motor Show. By 1983, it made its debut at the grueling Paris Dakar Rally, and won first place in 1985 on its 3rd attempt. It remains to date the most successful vehicle in the Dakar Rally in its class winning 7 out of 10 race, and 15 out of the full 32 race participations, cementing the Pajero badge as a formidable 4×4 off-roading vehicle. The Pajero was named after Leopardus pajeros, or the Pampas cat that is native to the Patagonia plateau of southern Argentina. Some countries like the UK uses Mitsubishi Shogun, a hereditary title of commander in chief in ancient feudal Japan.

Get Inquirer updates while on the go, add us on these apps:

Inquirer Viber

latest stories