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Cars Mitsubishi Plug-In 1917 Model A

Published on May 2nd, 2017 | by Nicolas Zart


1917 Mitsubishi Model A Plug-In For Centenary Celebration

May 2nd, 2017 by  

Mitsubishi Plug-In 1917 Model AMitsubishi is celebrating it’s 100th anniversary by slapping an electric drivetrain onto a modern reinterpretation of its very own 1917 Model A. And why not?

If you know the history behind the carmaker, skip to the middle of the article. But if you’re interested in some seriously convoluted history, read on.

Mitsubishi’s Highly Convoluted History

Mitsubishi Motors celebrating its centenary is a little more complicated that the release says. You see, it’s not completely accurate. Mitsubishi is a complicated company with a complicated history that is not always well understood. For one thing, the Mitsubishi that we know of now in terms of cars is really Mitsubishi Motors, technically Mitsubishi Motors Corporation. There is also a Mitsubishi Electric, which is not completely related to Mitsubishi Motors, but sometimes will work together … and at times disagree, as well.

All in all, Mitsubishi is a huge conglomerate that hosts various Mitsubishi companies, roughly 40 individual companies. And while the smaller companies own some portions of the overall shares, they don’t control Mitsubishi. But wait, it gets better.

Mitsubishi finds its roots in Mitsubishi Zaibatsu with its founder Yatarō Iwasaki. It was a shipping company at that time. The company technically lasted from 1870 to 1947, when it was disbanded after World War II. The current three main shareholders of the Mitsubishi group are The Bank of Tokyo–Mitsubishi UFJ, Mitsubishi Corporation, and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. This explains Mitsubishi’s logo, also. The name “Mitsubishi” breaks down into “mitsu,” which is one way of saying “three” in Japanese and “hishi,” water chestnut. It is also translated as “three diamonds” — better than three water chestnuts, no?

To convolute things further, as of October 2016, Mitsubishi Motors is now one-third (34%) owned by Nissan and part of the Renault-Nissan Alliance, as Steve Hanley reported for CleanTechnica.

So, why is this important? Because, technically, Mitsubishi Motors has only been around for 47 years and is part of the Mitsubishi keiretsu main company, which has a minority stake of 20% in Mitsubishi Motors, of which that last company is technically part of the automotive division of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. Right? And now for the coup de grace — Mitsubishi Shipbuilding Co. introduced its first car, the Model A, in 1917, which Mitsubishi Motors wants to recreate with an Outlander PHEV drivetrain. So, technically, Mitsubishi’s first car is 100 years old, no?

We’ll stop with the confusion here. I’m not sure I follow all of the intricacies of Mitsubishi 100% either.

Mitsubishi Plug-In 1917 Model A

I Love Mitsubishi!

You could write books on Mitsubishi. I really like Mitsubishi Motors because it is such an unusual carmaker. If you have ever driven a regular Lancer, and then jumped into a Lancer Evolution, and then driven an i-MiEV, you can plainly see that this is no ordinary car company. How can an automotive company make such a regular car as the Lancer and turn it into one of the most exciting internal combustion engine (ICE) cars? By the way, don’t you think that should be a PHEV by now (more to follow on that)?

And how can a company that was once was part of the Daimler group, working with Chrysler, inherit the Smart ForFour iCar, electrify it, and beat most carmakers to the US EV market? Now we’re stopping with the confusion, promise.

Mitsubishi Remakes 1917 Model A With A Plug For Centenary

Clearly, Mitsubishi beats to its own drum, and slapping on an electric drivetrain on the revival of its own 1917 Model A further enforces that this is no ordinary carmaker. A centennial celebration only comes around once and Mitsubishi decided to partner with West Coast Customs, which will use the plug-in hybrid (PHEV) drivetrain from its Outlander PHEV on a modern recreation of its Model A. After all, Mitsubishi’s Model A was the first to receive the three-diamond logo.

The 1917 Mitsubishi Model A PHEV built at West Coast Customs in Burbank, California, should be ready for this summer. If you want to know more, an episode of Inside West Coast Customs will air on the Velocity network, Tuesdays, at 9:00 pm PDT/EDT.

Oh, and finally, keep in mind that this release comes from Mitsubishi Motors North America, Inc. (MMNA), which is part of Mitsubishi Motors, itself part of the greater Mitsubishi. Right?

Depending on what time of the day it is, you may now reach for an aspirin or a drink. But in the meantime, I’m happy to see Mitsubishi celebrating its uniqueness and what better way to do it than to rebuild a modern day version of a plug-in 1917 Mitsubishi  Model A for its centennial!

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About the Author

Nicolas was born and raised around classic cars of the 1920s, but it wasn't until he drove an AC Propulsion eBox and a Tesla Roadster that the light went on. Eager to spread the news of that full torque, he was invited to write for various CleanTech outlets in 2007. Since then, his passion led to cover renewable energy, test drives, podcasts, shoot pictures, and film for various international outlets both in print and online. Nicolas offers an in-depth look at the e-mobility world through interviews and the many contacts he has forged in those industries. He particularly enjoys communicating about the new e-mobility technology and what it means to us as a society. Today he focuses most of his writing effort on CleanTechnica, a global online outlet that covers the world of electric vehicles and renewable energy. His favorite tagline is: "There are more solutions than obstacles."

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