MONTE CARLO - With the introduction of a five-door version, Mitsubishi hopes to increase sales of the Pajero Pinin to 25,000 units in 2001.
The Pinin three-door was introduced in July 1999, and 9,544 units were made that year. Mitsubishi plans to build about 14,500 three-door and 4,500 five-door Pinins in 2000. Next year, the five-door is expected to make up 60 percent of sales.
The Pinin is built in Italy by Industrie Pininfarina SpA in its new, dedicated plant at Bairo Canavese, north of Turin.
The Pinin is the third Mitsubishi model to be built in Europe. The other two are the Carisma and the Space Star that are made at NedCar in Born, the Netherlands.
Mitsubishi is planning to extend the Pajero Pinin's engine range. Currently, the Pinin three-door has a 1.8-liter GDI direct injection unit, and the five-door has a 2.0-liter GDI. Mitsubishi said it could soon equip the compact sport-utility with cheaper, indirect injection gasoline units.
Mitsubishi is also hoping to offer the Pinin with a turbodiesel engine.
'We understand how important a diesel is for Europe,' says Mitsubishi spokesman Noburo Nakamura. 'But at the moment, we don't have a turbodiesel engine of the proper size. We are evaluating different units to buy from DaimlerChrysler, Fiat, Renault and PSA, but a final decision has not been not taken yet.'
The Carisma and the Space Star use Renault's 1.9-liter direct injection turbodiesel engine.
Plans for cabriolet and rear-wheel-drive-only versions of the Pinin have been postponed, Nakamura said.
This year, the three biggest markets for the Pinin will be Germany (4,180 sales) followed by Italy (3,075) and the UK (2,680).
Mitsubishi Pajero Pinin five-door
Launch: November-December in mainland Europe, January 2001 in UK, where it will be known as Shogun Pinin