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A look back at 60 years of Mitsubishi Motors in the Philippines

Happy 60th, Mitsubishi Motors Philippines
Mitsubishi Motors Philippines celebrates 60th anniversary
PHOTO: Mitsubishi

If there is one car brand that stayed in the Philippines through thick and thin, it's Mitsubishi Motors. From the swinging ‘60s, through the turbulent times of the ‘70s and ‘80s, and all the way to the present, Mitsubishi Motors Philippines stuck around. And this year, MMPC celebrates its 60th anniversary.

Setting up shop

Mitsubishi Motors Philippines celebrates 60th anniversary

Mitsubishi Motors Philippines as we know it today was established as Chrysler Philippines Corporation (CPC) in 1963. At the time, Mitsubishi products weren’t made or sold here just yet, but the company saw its turning point in 1972. C.J. Yulo & Sons acquired a 65% interest in CPC, and the other 35% was acquired by Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (MMC) and Nissho Iwai Corporation. And if you’re wondering what the latter company is today, it’s now known as the Sojitz Corporation

Mitsubishi Motors Philippines celebrates 60th anniversary

It would take two more years before Mitsubishi cars would be sold and assembled in the Philippines. Some of the first cars offered here were the Colt Galant, the Cimmaron (remember those?), the Minica, and the Lancer. The rise of Mitsubishi (and Japanese cars) in the Philippines and the whole world was largely in part of the oil crises that favored the small and efficient Japanese cars over the big and thirsty American cars that were hugely successful in the ‘60s.

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Powering through

Mitsubishi Motors Philippines celebrates 60th anniversary

But it was in the ‘80s when Mitsubishi Motors Philippines (then called CARCO or Canlubang Automotive Resources Corporation) was at a crossroad. A large chunk of the decade saw several automakers leave the country with Toyota (as Delta Motor Corporation) and Ford closing operations in the mid-’80s. Martial Law, along with the subsequent political unrest and economic downturn made meant it was a dark period for the local automotive industry.

Mitsubishi Motors Philippines celebrates 60th anniversary

However, Mitsubishi decided to power through the troubled decade and helped cement its legacy in the Philippines. The car that made the company during the decade was none other than the iconic ‘Boxtype’ Lancer. But let's not forget the other Mitsubishi models sold at the time like the Mirage, Galant Sigma and the Galant Lambda.

Bouncing back

Mitsubishi Motors Philippines celebrates 60th anniversary

After the People Power Revolution in 1986, Mitsubishi ushered in a new wave of models that would be engrained in local car culture. Mitsubishi Philippines would also change its name from CARCO to PAMCOR (Philippine Automotive Manufacturing Corporation) in 1987.

Other highlights? The ‘singkit’ Lancer premiered, the first-generation Pajero made its local debut, and the L300 rolled out of the local assembly line. Mitsubishi Motors Philippines even introduced what are possibly the first pair of Japanese sport sedans in the country in the form of the Lancer GTi and Galant GTi in the early ‘90s.

Mitsubishi Motors Philippines celebrates 60th anniversary

And speaking of the ‘90s, Mitsubishi saw a rapid expansion of the local model lineup. Aside from the Lancer, Galant, L300, and Pajero, Mitsubishi also introduced the Space Wagon (one of the first small MPVs in the land), Lancer GSR, the Strada, and of course, the Adventure. There were even limited numbers of the Lancer Evolution V officially sold in the country. More importantly, most Mitsubishi models sold in the country rolled out of its assembly line in Cainta. Also, PAMCOR officially changed its company name to Mitsubishi Motors Philippines Corporation (MMPC).

Milestone after milestone

Mitsubishi Mirage G4 GLS Sport, 2022 Mitsubishi Mirage G4 GLS Sport pictures, 2022 Mitsubishi Mirage G4 GLS Sport specs, 2022 Mitsubishi Mirage G4 GLS Sport price, 2022 Mitsubishi Mirage G4 GLS Sport features, 2022 Mitsubishi Mirage G4 GLS Sport limited e

Fast forward to 2015 and Mitsubishi moved its assembly line to Santa Rosa, Laguna after decades of building cars in Cainta, Rizal. By then MMPC had sold over 500,000 units in the country (2009), celebrated its 50th anniversary (2013), and its Mirage was raking in awards from local motoring publications, us included. Oh, and were also lucky enough to get the Lancer Ralliart and Lancer Evolution X in local showrooms.

Mitsubishi Motors Philippines Montero Sport

These days, MMPC is still assembling cars in the country, namely the Mirage G4 and the L300 that’s also for export. The local lineup consists of those two models, along with the Mirage Hatchback, Xpander, Xpander Cross, Outlander PHEV, Strada, and Montero Sport. The company had also surpassed the one million sales milestone, and maintains a solid second place in the Philippine automotive sales race.

The future

Mitsubishi Xpander Cross 2023

So, what’s next for MMPC? Takeshi Hara, the current President and CEO of MMPC, had this to say:

“The Philippines has been and will be one of the most important markets for Mitsubishi Motors. Through our manufacturing and sales operations, we will continue to contribute to transfer of technology, human resources development, and creation of jobs in the country. We have successfully surpassed all the challenges over a period of time, and we will remain steadfast and strong. We will continue to work as a team to further achieve our goals.”

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Okay, so he didn’t tell us what future models are in the pipeline just yet, bet there are a several exciting all-new models we can expect from the brand soon. There’s a good chance the all-new Strada will premiere this year, along with the fourth-generation Montero Sport around late 2024. We can also expect a new-generation Xpander in the near future, as well as electrified models down the line.

Happy 60th, MMPC, and here’s to another 60 years and a million more units.

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PHOTO: Mitsubishi
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