The Mitsubishi Pajero has been one of the most iconic and formidable SUVs from the manufacturer throughout its 39-year run, with over 3.3 million sales globally. The Pajero has earned a respected legacy in rally and is particularly noted for having won the Dakar Rally 12 times, having the highest number of Dakar Rally stage wins (nearly twice that of the nearest competitor) and seizing 80% of Dakar Rally podium finishes from 2001-2005. It has served the Bangladeshi streets very ably as well. Unfortunately, it’s a sad day for the SUV, as it is set to meet its obituary soon.
After years of speculation and several attempts to save the Pajero from extinction, Mitsubishi will stop its production in the first half of 2021. Following Mitsubishi’s rather tough times and the recent report of its largest financial loss in 18 years, the automaker indicated it would make a slow retreat from the European market and focus on Asia, where the brand is more profitable. The carmaker anticipates an operating loss of 140 billion yen ($1.33 billion) for the year ending March 2021, just as it plans to slash its workforce and production, and close unprofitable dealerships to cut 20% of fixed costs in two years. Ironically, the announcement was made in Japan overnight at a board meeting celebrating the Pajero’s rally legacy. But Mitsubishi hasn’t been one to hold onto sentiments lately, as they have long since focused on market demand, killing the Lancer Evolution and reviving other icons as crossovers.
The Pajero’s factory in Sakahogi, Japan will close by 2023, but the Pajero will meet an end in its production in 2021, as a statement from Mitsubishi Japan said: “Mitsubishi Motors Corporation, at its July 27, 2020 board of directors meeting, resolved to stop production in first half of 2021 and close the factory of its domestic production subsidiary Pajero Manufacturing.” Four generations of the Pajero have been made since 1982, with the current generation sitting at 14 years of age as it went on sale back in 2006. Faced with stronger competition, the SUV never returned to its previous sales highs that it enjoyed in the early 2000s. In the current market owing towards crossovers and electric cars, the Pajero’s sales decline can be observed beginning from 2008 following the 2008 financial crisis, after which it never really recovered. The Outlander PHEV has been the best-selling plug-in hybrid in Europe, accounting for nearly 35,000 sales in 2019 and 20 percent overall of the company’s business there, according to figures from InsideEVs.
In order to celebrate the SUV’s iconic run in the country, Mitsubishi will offer a Final Edition which is limited to just 700 units. The Pajero has been competing with the Toyota Land Cruiser and Nissan Patrol for decades now (since 1982 to be precise) and sadly it has been the first one to drop out of the game and for fans it truly spells sad news. It likely won’t see a reincarnation either; we can expect a final nail in the coffin for the Pajero. All of this is not to be confused with the smaller and cheaper Pajero Sport though, which will still be sold as it is now. But who knows? Mitsubishi has been facing somewhat of an existential crisis and clearly a lot is on the line for them.