Currently available in Japan and Europe, Mitsubishi has decided to delay the US launch of the Outlander Plug-in Hybrid until 2015.
Some amount of delays were expected because of the 5 month production shut down due to battery fire incidents. The delay was hinted at when Mitsubishi changed the wording around the 2014 release date from being January 2014 to sometime during the 2014 calendar year.
Now, it’s official . Mitsubishi has this to say: “The reason for this vehicle being introduced in 2015 rather than in 2014 is because we have received overwhelming demand from Japan and Europe and the battery supply unfortunately cannot keep up with the demand.”
The batteries are supplied by Lithium Energy Japan, which is a joint venture between Mitsubishi and GS Yuasa. Even with production increased to 4,000 vehicles per month, Mitsubishi is still playing catch up and doesn’t want the US market added the pile just yet.
In addition, Mitsubishi is working on increased safety factors it wants to implement before launching in North America.
“In addition, we are taking cautious steps to implement U.S. safety regulations including adoption of the new lithium-ion battery cell monitoring system. With this new system, we will be able to monitor/safeguard the integrity of each individual lithium-ion battery cell. This all-new design will ensure the quality, function and integrity of the lithium-ion battery system to an unprecedented level of accuracy and safety.”
On the glass-half-full side, a delay due to too much demand is better than a delay due to lack of demand (which we’ve seen lead to pulling a vehicle completely from production plans).
This does leave the CUV/XUV electric vehicle segment for a competitor for another whole year which could mean the BMW X5 or Volkswagen CrossBlue could steal much of the market if they make it to production.