Mitsubishi Pajero to be discontinued worldwide, leaving an uncertain future for the Japanese company in India
The Japanese manufacturer’s Indian arm, Mitsubishi India, currently retails only one product in the domestic market which is the Pajero Sport.
The premium SUV is manufactured at Hindustan Motors’ production unit in Chennai as part of a joint venture agreement between the two parties signed in 1998. Mitsubishi enjoyed tremendous success in the Indian auto industry in the early parts of 21st century with its sporty Lancer sedan.
Its refined five-speed manual gearbox, gritty engine and chassis based on the iconic Lancer Evolution born and bred out of rallying prompted for a car that is still considered by many as a driver’s paradise.
But as the company’s sales numbers gradually plunged in the following years due to increased arrival of car makers who saw unexplored potential in the mass market, Mitsubishi failed to devise a proper product strategy plan and hence found itself falling short of vehicles in every department.
Make no mistake about it, Mitsubishi had been the victim of its own success. However, the Japanese brand was not left to rue its downfall and buckle down in despair. 2012 saw the introduction of Pajero Sport as Mitsubishi strived to regain its lost glory and with good amount of sales figures it gave stealthier competition to the established SUV rivals Toyota Fortuner and Ford Endeavour.
Amidst Pajero Sport being considered as the cornerstone for Mitsubishi’s comeback into Indian scenes, it has recently been conceded by the firm’s CEO Osamu Masuko that the chunky 4×4 wouldn’t be making anymore progress. For the US market it’s being offered as Montero and Masuko cited fuel consumption as the reason for pulling the SUV out of production there.
When questions were raised on the Pajero’s future in other markets, he went on to say it won’t be developed as he turns attention on solely focussing towards creating products to prominently suit buyers in the States. A dedicated R &D facility is likely to be established in Silicon Valley to develop plug-in hybrid SUVs and autonomous driving 4x4s and crossovers, the segment where Mitsubishi reaps benefits in various countries.
The recently launched Pajero Sport in Australia received a five star ANCAP safety rating. No concrete plans have been set for Indian market we suppose and if the next-gen Pajero makes its debut at the Auto Expo 2016 we are predicting a very limited production possibility. If the Pajero Sport be withdrawn from the Indian market, the already skeptical future of Mitsubishi is left for anybody’s guessing.