The iconic Mitsubishi Pajero’s long-term future is clouded, with a replacement for the aged current model a few years away in even the best-case scenario.
This is according to Mitsubishi Motors (MMC) president and COO, Tetsuro Aikawa, who said today via interpreter that the brand would be “continuing on with the present model for some time”.
When pressed on a more specific time frame, Aikawa would not be drawn, but it’s a period of several years at least. The current Pajero dates to 1999, and though it has had a series of updates (like the recent addition of Apple CarPlay/Android Auto) to keep it fresh, it’s one of the oldest designs on the market.
The issue ties into how MMC, a small company by global standards, can justify the development cost of a model that won’t sell in massive numbers in key markets — with one key issue being fuel economy.
“There is an issue about the weight and fuel economy, so the market we can sell is going to be limited,” Aikawa said.
MMC’s key region is ASEAN, in which much of the demand is catered for by the new Pajero Sport, the Triton ute-based off-roader that has until now been known as the Challenger in Australia, but which will get the name change locally when the new one launches in December (pictured below).
“With regard to Europe beyond 2020, and stringent CO2 regulations, rather than this type of vehicle I think people will look more into vehicles that produce less CO2 and [have greater] fuel economy,” Aikawa said
“So we have to clear these stringent regulations to come in future, so we’re focusing on FF (front-drive) based SUVs.”
The obvious question, which we posed: is the current iteration therefore the final Pajero? Will the famous nameplate that dates to 1982 die when this generation does?
“I’m not saying this is the last Pajero for the time being,” Aikawa said.
Still, it’s clearly not a priority, despite the fact MMC is putting most of its development money behind SUVs, tipped to grow 30 per cent by 2020. As we know, it will add a brand new variant to slot between the ASX (which itself will shrink in next-generation guise, as previewed by the EX concept above) in 2017.
The possible demise of Pajero will come as a surprise to some. MMC showed off the GC-PHEV concept at the 2013 Tokyo motor show, which was billed as a concept of the next Pajero.