Mitsubishi Pajero's days are numbered
The news is bleak for fans of Mitsubishi's off-road stalwart, the Pajero.
Speaking at this week's Tokyo Motor Show, Mitsubshi president and CEO, Tetsuro Aikawa, hinted that the butch off-roader's race was all but run, despite confirming that the company's future was in SUVs rather than conventional passenger cars.
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He confirmed that the current-model Pajero – itself no spring chicken – would continue in production for some time, but refused to rule out that the full-sized off-roader would be missing from Mitsubishi's longer term plans.
"Weight and fuel economy are big issues," he said.
And with increasingly strict emissions targets applying in European markets from 2020 onwards, a big, heavy vehicle would struggle to meet those targets.
Which begs the question, is the current Pajero the last of the big, brawny off-roaders from Mitsubishi?
"I'm not saying that; I'm saying that the current Pajero will stay in production for some time."
But Aikawa would not be drawn on exactly how long that would be, but the smart money suggests until that 2020 deadline for lower tailpipe emissions in Europe, at which point vehicles like the Challenger replacement would become the focus for off-road use.
The new vehicle will not, in fact, be known as Challenger, but will be badged Pajero Sport to bring it into line with the rest of the world.
And while Australia and New Zealand will be important markets for the newcomer, so will the rest of the ASEAN region, although Europe will miss out on it, again, thanks to those looming emissions restrictions.
Aikawa did back up his statement that the SUV was the future for his company, by confirming a new model to slot in between the existing ASX and Outlander models.
Though based on the Outlander platform, the new model would be only slightly bigger than the ASX and would feature a more luxurious approach to the SUV theme.
There would also be petrol, diesel and a plug-in hybrid variant of the as-yet unnamed model.
The new model should be on the market sometime in 2017.