Mitsubishi’s Brazilian importer MMC Automotores has unveiled the Pajero TR4, its second Brazilian-built model, writes Rogério Louro.

The new model is known in Japan as the Pajero Io and as the Shogun Pinin in Europe and few changes have been made to adapt it to the Brazilian market apart from exclusive bumpers, bonnet, grille and wheels (pretty much the same as Pininfarina did to distinguish the Italian-built Pinin from the Japanese Io).

The newcomer should seem familiar enough to Brazilian buyers in any case because MMC Automotores began importing the Pajero Io in 1999.

The company decided to change the name of the Brazilian-made version after research showed that some buyers confused the ‘Io’ tag with ‘1.0’, a common designation for cars sold in Brazil’s ‘popular car’ passenger model segment.

Because of this, some people though that the Pajero Io model was a “popular” version of the Pajero with a one-litre engine.

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“The name TR4 will solve this problem and will help to remind consumers that the model has 4 wheel drive”, said MMC Automotores president Eduardo de Souza Ramos.

The TR4 has a 131bhp two-litre 16-valve engine and is built in the MMC Automotores plant in Catalão, Goiás state. The factory has built a unique version of the previous generation L200 pick-up since 1998.

MMC Automotores has invested $US100million in the ‘Anhanguera Project’ to adapt the Pajero TR4 to Brazilian market demands and extend factory capacity from 8,500 units to 20,000 a year.

In despite of the slump in the Brazilian new car market this year, MMC Automotores expects the Pajero TR4 to increase its total sales.

“We want to sell about 1,000 units in 2002 and close the year with 15,200 units”, said de Souza Ramos.

In 2001 the automaker sold 14,500 vehicles.

Mitsubishi Japan originally prohibited MMC Automotores from exporting Brazilian-made vehicles but, from February this year, now allows exports though only to Mercosur countries.

But MMC Automotores has not yet decided to sell the L200 and TR4 in Argentina and Uruguay due to the grim economic situations in both markets.