Mitsubishi Plagued By Faults, Recalls Japanese Plug-in Cars
Mitsubishi is officially recalling its Japanese-market 2013 Outlander plug-in crossover SUV, as well as various i-MiEV electric subcompact models. To eliminate any risk of battery overheating in affected cars, the company is recalling 4,313 Outlander Plug-in Hybrids, 17 i-MiEV electric subcompacts, and 98 minicab i-Miev variants.
Mitsubishi will replace the entire battery pack of affected cars in its home market of Japan. The company is focusing on domestic cars, but said that about 50 i-MiEV cars overseas will also be recalled. This could include U.S. market cars, although Mitsubishi said most of the affected cars are in Europe, where the Mitsubishi i-Miev is sold as the Peugeot iOn and Citroen C-Zero.
This follows Mitsubishi suspending shipments of the Outlander Plug-in Hybrid in March, after shipping about 4,000 units of the plug-in Outlander, as well as 68 i-MiEV vehicles fitted with potentially faulty batteries. In early February, Mitsubishi Motors U.K. officially launched the gas-powered version of the new Outlander crossover S.U.V., promising that the forthcoming plug-in hybrid version will arrive in the U.K. by June. The plug-in S.U.V. is expected in the United States in 2014. The model is capable of about 30 miles of all-electric range, and another 250 or so miles using internal combustion. It can travel at speeds up to about 75 miles per hour strictly using electric propulsion.
Mitsubishi started its investigation into battery overheating in March,
after a 2013 Outlander plug-in hybrid suffered a battery fire in a company factory. Another car experiences a partially melted battery pack caused by internal short circuits.
Mitsubishi traced the problem to poor quality control and mishandling procedures at its battery supplier, Lithium Energy Japan—a joint venture between battery specialist GS Yuasa Corporation and Mitsubishi. GS Yuasa supplies batteries to Boeing, which had to ground its 787 Dreamliner earlier this year after on-board lithium-ion battery pack caught fire.
As Automotive News reports, incorrect battery screening—in which excessive force was applied to the cells—caused some battery cells to internally fracture and short-circuit. In addition, poor handling practices by workers, such as occasionally dropping battery cells on the floor, increased cell failure rates.
Mitsubishi said it is now confident that new measures, including a revised cell screening process and better quality control monitoring, have solved the battery pack problems.
While the majority of U.S. Mitsubishi i cars appear to be unaffected by this recall, the recall isn’t good news for Mitsubishi's reputation, and will make it difficult for the company to increase sales of its electric vehicle from its current low rate. In 2012, Mitsubishi sold 588 units of the i-MiEV. That rate has been on the rise in 2013, with 843 units sold of the electric subcompact sold this year through May.
New to EVs? Start here
What Is An Electric Car?
Before we get going, let's establish basic definitions.
A Quick Guide to Plug-in Hybrids
Some plug-in cars have back-up engines to extend driving range.
Electric Cars Pros and Cons
EVs are a great solution for most people. But not everybody.
Seven Things To Know About Buying a Plug-In Car
A few simple tips before you visit the dealership.
Federal and Local Incentives for Plug-in Hybrids and Electric Cars
Take advantage of credits and rebates to reduce EV costs.
Eight Factors Determining Total Cost of Ownership of an Electric Car
EVs get bad rap as expensive. Until you look at TCO.
Quick Guide to Buying Your First Home EV Charger
You'll want a home charger. Here's how to buy the right one.
Electric Car Utility Rate Plans: Top Five Rules
With the right utility plan, electric fuel can be dirt cheap.
The Ultimate Guide to Electric Car Charging Networks
If you plan to charge in public, you'll want to sign up for charging network membership (or two).
Eight Rules of Electric Vehicle Charging Etiquette
Thou shalt charge only when necessary. And other rules to live by.