Dark clouds have been gathering over Mitsubishi’s car operations for a long, long time. Its diminished lineup in the U.S. has us thinking about writing the company’s obituary for its North American operations—but surprisingly, the sad Mitsu news today doesn’t concern America. Instead, the company’s long-running and formidable Pajero SUV is dead, and so, too, it seems are its entire European operations.
The Pajero is a full-size SUV analogous to the Toyota Land Cruiser and the Nissan Patrol (sold here as the Armada). It sold in the U.S. as the Montero, originally in two- and four-door forms and for a time as the Dodge Raider. The third generation Montero was the last for our market, bowing out after the 2006 model year. For a few years, there were rumblings it might return in plug-in hybrid form, but despite some executive soundbites as late as 2018 it wouldn’t come to fruition.
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Now, the Pajero is dead, reports Reuters. Its factory in Sakahogi, Japan will close by 2023, but the Pajero will expire in 2021, the Nikkei Asian Review adds. The reason? An already tough sales environment for the big SUV, exacerbated by a plunge in vehicle sales overall due to the coronavirus pandemic. To survive, Mitsubishi is convinced it needs to shrink.
And that takes us to the news out of Europe. Remember, Mitsubishi is part of the Nissan-Renault-Mitsubishi Alliance, with Nissan owning a controlling interest. The company’s latest overarching strategy is to focus each alliance member on a region—for Mitsubishi, this means winding down European operations and focusing on more profitable conditions in Southeast Asia, reports Automotive News Europe.
This is a bit of a surprise considering the success of some of the company’s products in (admittedly small) European niche segments. The Outlander PHEV is 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. And the signals the company had sent out as recently as March indicated that, if anything, the company was going to reinvest in offerings for the region.
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But the company’s global losses are sobering, the worst in 18 years, according to ANE. That’s an existential crisis for the company, and it’s clear that everything’s on the table in order for Mitsubishi to survive.
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Montero? Pajero? Mitsubishi Calls the Whole Thing Off—and Quits Europe
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