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Mitsubishi to put Pajero out to pasture

Mitsubishi calls it quits on Pajero after four decades of service as losses mount

29 Jul 2020

MITSUBISHI Motors Corporation (MMC) has revealed that it will be retiring its longest running model in the near future, opting to end production of its longstanding Pajero off-roader after nearly four decades of service.


Having been savaged by the coronavirus pandemic – and amongst other factors – MMC says it is staring down the barrel of a projected 140b yen ($A1.86b) loss when the Japanese financial year ends next March.


If the predictions hold true, it will be the brand’s biggest loss in 18 years.


The Pajero’s axing then comes as part of MMC’s ‘Small but Beautiful’ mid-term business plan which aims to reduce fixed costs by 20 per cent or more, with the biggest saving – up to 15 per cent – set to made through redundancies and other “headcount rationalisation” measures.


Other measures being taken include a reduced presence in Europe in favour of a greater emphasis on the ASEAN – targeted 11.4 per cent market share –, Oceanic, African and South American markets and a greatly enhanced focus on plug-in hybrid technology courtesy of the Alliance.


“We will shift our strategy from all-round expansion to selection and concentration,” MMC representative executive officer and chief executive officer Takao Kato said.


“First of all, we will complete our structural reforms and further strengthen our competitive areas – ultimately to build a corporate structure that can surely generate profits during this mid-term period.”


While the long-serving Pajero is being retired, the rest of MMC’s line-up is set to continue full steam ahead with an updated Eclipse Cross due here by the end of this year bringing updated styling, a revised interior and a new infotainment system.


Next year an all-new Outlander will arrive Down Under promising to be “bigger, bolder and better” than ever as well as being the “quietest and best-equipped” model ever offered here.


Following about a year behind the new Outlander will be a new PHEV variant along with an all-new Triton tipped to share its underpinnings with the next-generation Nissan Navara, as per the Small but Beautiful clause to leverage more resources from the Alliance.


Further along the lines will come the inevitable Triton-based Pajero Sport as well as two new models yet to be named or detailed, let alone confirmed for Australia, while the ASEAN market will also be treated to an exclusive electric vehicle and designated MPV.


Besides the pint-sized Mirage, the Mitsubishi Motors Australia Limited (MMAL) passenger vehicle line-up is comprised entirely of SUVs with the strong-selling Triton and newly introduced Express classed as light-commercial vehicles.


This is no coincidence according to MMAL CEO Shaun Westcott, who said the looming Eclipse Cross and new Outlander were proof of the brand’s “commitment to deliver high quality, leading-edge SUVs to Australian owners and their families”.


With such a heavy emphasis on mid-sized and compact SUVs along with ever strengthening popularity of pick-up trucks, the final nail in the coffin for the Pajero was its relatively poor sales performance with just 979 units sold through the first half of 2020.


By comparison, the more affordable – and ute-based – Pajero Sport outsold its aged counterpart more than three times over (3048), with the now 14-year-old fourth-generation Pajero unable to get close to the 8632 sales/19.9 per cent segment share of its arch-rival, the Toyota Prado.


According to an MMAL spokesperson, Pajero production is officially slated to end in either August or September next year meaning the rugged SUV should still be present Aussie showrooms until at least the start of 2022.

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