Mitsubishi Motors Corp. is recalling its i-MiEV units in Japan due to a production glitch that caused one lithium ion battery pack to melt and another to catch fire in March 2013. The carmaker will recall over 4,000 vehicles with the potentially faulty batteries in Japan starting mid-July. Mitsubishi has sold a small number of affected i-MiEVs in Europe and the United States.
Also affected is Mitsubishi’s Outlander plug-in hybrid crossover sold only in Japan. The carmaker has stopped production and sales of the affected vehicles. According to Mitsubishi spokeswoman Namie Koketsu, they are preparing appropriate measures for markets outside Japan, which may mean a similar recall in the US.
The carmaker said in April it had contacted drivers in the US about the glitch. The carmaker has come up with a solution to the problem in May that could prevent the defects.Koketsu said the new process will produce replacement batteries for the cars being recalled.
Mitsubishi is planning to resume production of new i-MiEVs and Outlander plug-in hybrids by the end of August 2013, after fixing the recalled models. Mitsubishi’s battery supplier, Lithium Energy Japan, said there are two reasons why the batteries may short-circuit.
First is the inadvertent dropping of the batteries that could cause parts of the battery cells to break off and contaminate the cells. Second is the screening process that applied excessive force to the batteries, causing internal damage to the cells. Lithium Energy Japan has verified fixes for both problems in April.