Although it felt like Mitsubishi would just keep building it forever, it’s almost the end of the line for the Mitsubishi Pajero.
UPDATE, 10:15am 28/07/2020: Mitsubishi has officially confirmed the Pajero will be axed in 2021.
Nikkei Asian Review reports the venerable SUV will end production in 2021.
Its factory – the eponymous Pajero Manufacturing plant in Sakahogi, Gifu Prefecture – will be shuttered by 2023 due to declining output.
Last year, the plant’s production accounted for around 10 per cent of all Mitsubishi production in Japan. In the same year, Mitsubishi was the eighth best-selling automaker in Japan after almost all its domestic rivals.
In addition to the Pajero, the Pajero Manufacturing plant produces the Outlander and its platform-mate, the Delica D:5 (above). The latter will be familiar to Australians as a second-hand import.
Nikkei reports Mitsubishi will shift Delica production to the company’s Okazaki plant alongside the Outlander, though there are no plans to move the Pajero.
Delica sales commenced in 2007, while the Pajero was introduced in 2006. The Delica received its first significant facelift last year, however, while the Pajero’s last update was a relatively minor one five years ago.
Mitsubishi discontinued the Pajero in its home market last year though it’s continued manufacturing it for export markets such as Australia and the Middle East.
There’s no danger to the Outlander, with production already occurring at two factories in Japan and a new model due next year.
Mitsubishi is believed to be confirming plans for the axing of the Pajero as part of its mid-term management plan, set to be announced on Monday.
Though model cycles in the large SUV segment tend to be long, the Pajero is especially old as the current 2006-vintage generation was an update of the previous series launched in 1999.
The Pajero used to consistently outsell the smaller, Triton-based Challenger by a significant margin. When that model was replaced with the Pajero Sport, however, the tables turned.
In 2016, in the Pajero Sport’s first full year on the market, Mitsubishi sold 6,238 of them and 4,049 Pajeros. Last year, Mitsubishi sold 6,477 Pajero Sports and 2,847 Pajeros; so far this year, the newer SUV is outselling the veteran by three-to-one.
The shuttering of the Pajero Manufacturing plant is the first Japanese plant closure for Mitsubishi in almost twenty years. The company is trying to cut fixed costs by ¥100 billion (A$1.3 billion).
The plant has manufactured every generation of Pajero – known in some markets as the Shogun and Montero – since the first generation was launched in 1982.