Mitsubishi now knows the cause of the lithium ion battery glitch that made it have to stop production for the Outlander plug-in hybrid crossover and most i electric cars. According to the Japanese carmaker, a small number of the affected i EVs are already plying the roads in the United States and Europe, it has notified their drivers not to drive them.
Mitsubishi only sells the Outlander plug-in hybrid in Japan. Mitsubishi spokeswoman Namie Koketsu said that affected customers in Japan and abroad were offered alternative vehicles while their units are still unfit to drive.
Owners of the plug-in hybrid Outlander were given instructions to turn off hybrid and EV-drive mode. Koketsu said Mitsubishi will compensate owners of the hybrid for the additional gasoline usage. Outlander owners could also be provided with alternative vehicles once requested, until the problem is resolved.
Mitsubishi plans to issue a recall in Japan in May 2013 for the Outlander plug-in hybrids and i EVs after it determines how to resolve the battery problem, Koketsu disclosed. The Japanese carmaker has yet to decide what callback actions to take for overseas markets but has already informed the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration of the measures being taken so far in Japan.
She said that Mitsubishi has already notified owners through their dealers, in Japan and overseas, “to assure their safety." Around 4,000 Outlander plug-in hybrids may have defects in their lithium ions batteries.
On the other hand, around 100 affected i EVs are in Japan and another 50 are located overseas, including in the US and Europe. Mitsubishi said that most of the affected i EVs overseas were in Europe.
Mitsubishi halted production of the affected vehicles, as well as Japanese sales, in March after one lithium ion battery melted at a dealership and another caught fire in an assembly site.