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Mitsubishi Pajero may be on the chopping block

New faces: The revamped Mitsubishi ASX, revealed at the LA show, is still not locked in for the Australian market.

The future of Mitsubishi's Pajero unclear following reports of its demise

4 Dec 2015

MITSUBISHI says its long-serving Pajero four-wheel-drive wagon remains “an important part” of the car-maker's SUV line-up and a contributor to its Australian sales, following American reports of the model's imminent demise.

United States industry publication Automotive News has reported Mitsubishi Motors Corporation CEO Osamu Masuko as saying that there will be no replacement for the full-size Pajero SUV, because of fuel economy concerns.

Mitsubishi Motors Australia Limited executive director of marketing Tony Principe said the model was an ongoing part of the brand's local line-up and its future was a question for Mitsubishi Motor Corporation.

“That's for our parent company to answer, that question was asked at Tokyo, but it was said that basically it was on hold at this stage,” he said.

“The reality is that they are probably looking at all their resources and MMC might be looking to focus on the key growth areas – small and medium SUVs are rocketing up. What do we need in terms of a global growth situation? Europe is almost saying the regulations are against the large cars so we have to focus on growth.”

Mitsubishi has revealed two small SUV concepts and is likely to put both into production to bolster offerings in the smaller SUV segments.

The XR-PHEV, a front-drive plug-in hybrid with a 1.1-litre direct-injection turbo engine, was shown first at the 2013 Tokyo motor show before a second iteration was uncovered at the 2015 Geneva show, and likely previews the next-generation ASX.

At this year's Tokyo motor show, the car-maker lifted the covers off the eX Concept that is believed to form the basis of a new sub-ASX crossover.

The absence of a third row of seats in the Challenger-replacing Pajero Sport was queried at the new model launch and the company said negotiations were ongoing to offer the seven-seat option.

Mr Principe said the Pajero Sport was not a replacement for Pajero, but also did not rule it out.

“I'm not privy to the MMC global strategy but I guess anything is possible.”

A timetable on the facelifted ASX's arrival in Australia is also yet to be determined and Mr Principe said the acceptance of new styling cues on the Pajero Sport will have a bearing on decisions made about the small SUV.

“We're still thinking about that. We've only just started to get traction with the current ASX and we have to look at whether or not to wait or take the new one,” he said.

“The ASX has good traction and I'm reluctant to change that unnecessarily.”

A facelifted version of the ASX made its debut at last month's Los Angeles motor show alongside a refreshed version of the Mirage micro car which is set to arrive next year.

The Lancer will also have to soldier on as the company hunts for a joint-venture partner for its next small car in the same way it shares a Nissan vehicle for its 'Kei' car in Japan.

“The parent company's position is that they are still looking for a suitable joint-venture partner. I think they've made it pretty clear that they want to throw all their resources at the SUV models,” he said.

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