It is an extremely rare to see the Indian Army get involved in a rant with one of the predominant carmakers in the world. The defence force claimed that malfunctioning engines in some of the Pajeros has forced the Army to bring a few SUVs down from the Indo-China border in Sikkim to Kolkata.
“The Pajeros supplied to Sikkim did not perform up to our expectations, particularly in the higher altitudes. Their engines developed problems. The situation was so bad that we had to bring down three of them to the plains. It would serve no purpose to allow them to rot. We are trying to make the best use of these vehicles,” a Fort William spokesperson said.
On the other hand, Krishna Kumar, an executive with Mitsubishi Motors, countered, “There is no problem with the vehicle or its engine. In fact, the Pajero is a robust vehicle that has performed extremely well in extreme weather conditions. The problems are related to usage of poor quality of diesel, which has maximum kerosene content. Due to the use of different fuel, it developed major issues in the fuel injection pumps and related engine parts. We have extended our support to use an additive to avoid diesel freezing, but they have never followed our suggestions. Poor maintenance is also a problem.”
The decision to choose Pajeros was taken back in 2010-11. This call was surprising as the vehicles of choice for the Army in the eastern Himalayas are either Maruti Suzuki Gypsy(s) or Mahindra four-wheel drives. It is possible that since the officials at People’s Liberation Army (PLA) make use of the Pajeros, it might have prompted them to place an order of the same vehicles for more challenging terrains as well. Mitsubishi has also confirmed that since the agreement in 2010-11 till 2014, at least two out the dozen SUVs sent to the Indian Army had to be brought down.