Hopes and dreams wrapped in vanity.
A recent Car Buzz article ruffled many feathers in the North American Mitsubishi Montero community. In the article, Tsuneshiro Kunimoto, vice president and general manager of Mitsubishi design, was quoted as saying this about the future of the Pajero:
“Yes, that is one thing we are looking at. A new SUV. … The SUV is still growing, also in China and Europe, so it (an SUV) would be a good decision for Mitsubishi.” — link
Combined with the recent naming of Fred Diaz, former head of Ram development at Chrysler, who went on to spearhead development of the new Nissan Titan, as Mitsubishi Motors North America CEO—AND news MMNA USDM sales numbers have increased five years in a row—you can see how some of us might be more than a little excited.
But it’s still a very complex issue in a highly competitive, global market. Much as I want to think we’ll get a new Pajero in North America at some point, I still don’t see it as being possible for at least three to five years, at which point the Pajero, loved as it may be, could be something entirely different.
You can’t always get what you want.
But if you try sometimes, you might find, you get what you need.
Scratching the itch
There’s been a RASH of passionate debate on this subject in the Montero community. Much of it reflects a lack of understanding of all the variables in play. My own sentiments included, I’m sure.
[ Note: If you’re an industry professional who can speak to these topics more definitively, we’d love to speak you and get your take. Please get in touch. ]
Adam Campbell and Joshua Mead over at Adventure Driven Design finally weighed in on the subject in a thread over on Expedition Portal. They brought deeper insights based on close contacts within Mitsubishi and proximity to the North American auto manufacturing sector over the years.
We may not have all the pieces on the board yet, but we’re getting there. This is a complex problem. Any solution is likely going to be equally complex.
$37,000, fully loaded Montero Sport
Adam, aka: Toasty, had been in talks with insiders on the latest generation Pajero Sport making its way to North America. But he pointed out the first thing Nissan did after completing their controlling stake in MMC was disband MMNA’s R&D team. Just like that, we lost the Montero Sport.
Toasty did some international shopping, though, and priced out a fully loaded Sport down under in Australia at US$37k. That’s definitely competitive and would likely sell like gangbusters in the US, but I’m curious if Toasty’s $37k sticker included the $7500 chicken tax on light trucks not assembled in North America.
$44,7k sticker puts the Sport in solid V8 territory. Tricky, doable, but I think that would cut into Nissan’s Titan plans. Nissan’s worked too hard for their piece of the US truck market. I don’t think they’d want to invest much in competing against themselves in this space.
They could build a Pajero factory in the US.
Josh suggested a US plant turning out Pajeros to bypass the chicken tax and get Mitsubishi trucks competitive in the USDM, I love the UAW angle. Get the trucks built here, they’ll sell here. DSM was only the beginning for Normal. They had a good run.
Biggest problem I see with the American factory approach seems to be they’d have to build a new, redundant factory to serve the USDM almost exclusively. Current global demand for the Pajero is already served by existing production capacity.
They don’t need another factory to supply Pajeros to North America. But they’re priced out of their league if they don’t build them here. Which means the only way we’re getting a true, new Mitsubishi Pajero in this country is if somebody decides to spend a gajillion dollars on a brand new factory they don’t need.
Doubt Nissan would do that without damn good reason. (I’ll get to that in a minute.) More likely, if we get anything at all, it will be a Mitsubishi-badged Nissan. At least for the next few years, anyway, as the two organizations start merging technology into future generations and models.
Face it. We’re gonna get another Raider.
They’ll have to call it something else; L20, maybe. Triton sounds WAY too close to Titan to even get out of bed the day they make THAT call.
They’ll call it a Mitsubishi Something-or-Other, but we’ll know. We’ll know it’s really a Maxima buried under all that gorgeous sheet metal, with one of those achingly wonderful VQs at its heart, an engine we all, even secretly, wish our cars sounded like from time to time. We’ll know all that and see it as just another Raider—but not the COOL one.
So, in my opinion, the one, easy way to get a new Pajero in North America?
Nissan likely needs to see only one thing.
Massive, unrepentant, global demand for the Pajero.
Not the Titan.
Not the Armada.
Not the Frontier or Navarra.
Not the Juke, Rogue, Murano or even the mighty—and I do mean mighty—Patrol. Nissan needs to see that every 4WDing, off-roading, truck loving sumbitch in the world wants a Pajero.
Put your money where your mouth is.
Whatever they slap diamonds on and bring to your local Nissan-Mitsubishi dealership, you go buy one. Coming from a guy whose wife’s bought-new Juke is an oil change away from 100k, I’m sure you’ll find it’s a fine automobile you will quickly come to love and respect—just as much as that clapped-out Montero or DSM that’s been nickel-and-diming you for the last couple years.
If GLOBAL demand soars to peak manufacturing capacity—AND it’s mostly for the Mitsubishi truck platforms—AND stays strong for a couple years—it MIGHT make the case for building a new factory somewhere in the world.
Knock, knock. Who’s there? UAW.
Of course, this could all be moot, as the world’s changing everyday. And I don’t see either of these scenarios playing out in less than 3-5 years.
We could all pull together in an unprecedented display of brotherhood and humanity, unite the 5,000 tribes of Sirius and Astron worldwide, collectively tilt the game in our favor, and FINALLY get a brand, spanking new Pajero in 2022.
A FWD CVT 2.4 DI-G E-SAWC Hybrid with semi-automatic E-locking rear differential (hill climb/descent assist) for $37,000.
$0dn 96mos @ 0%apr oac.
Or, hell, I dunno. I could be just as full of shit as anyone else debating this topic. (I mean, none of us REALLY knows. This is all hopes and dreams wrapped in vanity at the end of the day and we know it.) But it would sure be nice to sit down and talk to ANYONE who actually KNOWS what’s up and could educate us.
Maybe there’s a new guy at Mitsubishi who kinda likes trucks who could give us the reality check we need (or, since he’s probably really busy, could tap someone to let us know what’s up—wink) so we might get this buying cycle started again or STFU about it once and for all.
That would be pretty cool, and I’m sure I could assemble a solid group of owner enthusiasts to hear that message and either help spread the good word, let everyone down gently, or anything in between.
(There’s those hopes and dreams again.)
Look, if it were as easy as any of us thought it was, we wouldn’t be sitting around online debating Mitsubishi’s brand and product strategies. We’d be running our own car companies, wouldn’t we.
And, if we’re honest with ourselves? Those companies would probably look a lot more like Local Motors, anyway.
But yeah. 22-year Mitsubishi owner enthusiast, here, who still remembers how silky smooth his 98 200SX was and has absolutely, unequivocally loved his wife’s 11 Juke (FWD CVT) for nearly 100,000 miles, I really hope we get a new Mitsubishi truck in North America again soon.
If we can make it here, too, even better.