Photo/IllutrationThe Mitsubishi Pajero 2600 Turbo, a four-wheel-drive vehicle that became an overall champion in the 7th annual Paris-Dakar Rally in 1985. It was the first time that a car made in Japan won the grueling desert race. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

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Mitsubishi Motors Corp. will end production of its Pajero sport utility vehicle for the domestic market this summer, once a hallmark of the automaker.

While the company plans to release an improved version of the full-size SUV featuring special equipment, it will not develop a next-generation model.

Production of the vehicle for export will continue.

The Pajero, first released in 1982, became popular as a recreational vehicle among nature enthusiasts.

In recent years, however, sales have slowed owing to its poor gas mileage and other reasons.

Domestic sales of the current model have declined to below 1,000 vehicles a year.

The transport ministry has bolstered automobile safety standards to protect pedestrians, requiring automakers to modify designs and features for new vehicles. Mitsubishi Motors determined that investing in development of the Pajero to comply with the laws and regulations would be too costly.