Last month, Mitsubishi had to halt production of its i-Miev and Outlander PHEV after a battery pack caught fire and another overheated causing the Outlander plug-in inoperable.
The batteries in the Outlander PHEV, and in some of the Mitsubishi i-Miev electric vehicles are made by Lithium Energy Japan.Lithium Energy Japan is owned by a joint-venture between Mitsubishi and GS Yuasa. That company also makes batteries for the Boeing 787 Dreamliner which has also have some battery fires recently.
The investigation found that they are short circuiting from a screening process that infected the batteries with contaminants. That screening process has now been discontinued.
In the meantime, Mitsubishi has notified the affected Mitsubishi i owners to stop driving the vehicles, and Outlander PHEV owners have been told to drive in gas-only mode for now. Affected vehicles will be recalled next month and Mitsubishi is offering compensation, and if needed, a loaner vehicle.
Since it first went on sale in Japan in January, there have been about 4000 Outlander PHEVs sold, and all will be affected by the recall. Around 150 Mitsubishi i MiEV vehicles also had the problematic batteries.
Mitsubishi still plans on launching the 2014 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV in North American markets in January 2014.