It looks like we'll be waving goodbye to the Mitsubishi Pajero soon. After releasing two “Final Editions” of the Pajero in Japan and in Germany, Mitsubishi is set to cease production of the long-running SUV.
According to a report from Nikkei, Mitsubishi cited plummeting sales and the global pandemic, and are now preparing to shut down the Pajero Manufacturing Co. facility by next year. With the company no longer offering the Pajero in the domestic market, as well as the decline in sales in other global markets, the factory's output rate has dropped significantly. In 2019, Mitsubishi only made a total of 63,000 examples of the Pajero, which equates to about 10% of the company's overall domestic production.
Mitsubishi plans to close the factory by 2023 but the production of the Pajero will cease in 2021, hence why the automaker is already preparing to stop making the Pajero soon. Other cars that are also being built at the soon-to-close facility include the Delica D:5 and Outlander models. Both cars are expected to continue domestic production at a different factory, however.
With the factory set to be closed in a few years' time, it will be the first time a Mitsubishi factory in Japan will be closed in about two decades. In 2001, the company ceased building cars at the Ooe plant in Nagoya.
But does this mean the Pajero name will be consigned to the history books? Not exactly, as Mitsubishi plans to still use the name in a future model. Last October 2019, Hiroshi Nagaoka, senior vice president of engineering at Mitsubishi Motors said that while the company has no solid plans yet for a next-gen model, they said that they can still use the Pajero name in the future. With no plans to rush into it, it appears that the Pajero nomenclature will be going on a lengthy hiatus until Mitsubishi comes up with a worthy successor.
The factory's predecessor, which was called Toyo Koki before, was first established in 1943. It used to make aircraft parts during World War II. After the global conflict, the factory switched to automotive body manufacturing. In 1995, Mitsubishi made the factory its subsidiary – calling it the Pajero Manufacturing. Then in 2003, Mitsubishi made the factory as its wholly-owned subsidiary.
As the Pajero sets to ride towards the sunset, we cannot help but think that the closure of the factory that makes the Pajero is essentially a fitting reminder to the vehicle that was once. Hopefully, the all-new generation will befit having the Pajero name on its badge.
Source: Asia Nikkei Review