Industry journal Automotive News reports that Mitsubishi will halt its Japanese sales and production of the all-electric i-MiEV and Outlander Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle and recall more than 4400 of the vehicles after a manufacturing fault was discovered in March that caused one lithium-ion battery pack to melt and another to catch fire.
While the Mitsubishi Outlander plug-in hybrid is currently only sold in Japan, the report says a small number of affected i-MiEVs were sold in Europe and the US.
Mitsubishi spokesperson Namie Koketsu told Automotive News, "We are preparing appropriate measures for markets outside Japan, but this is not the appropriate time to give details".
The manufacturing issue was traced back to the handling of the lithium-ion batteries, with short circuits occurring due to workers dropping the batteries, causing contamination of the battery’s cells, and excessive force applied to the batteries during a screening process, also causing damage to the cells.
Koketsu said Mitsubishi rectified the manufacturing flaw last month, with the 4313 recalled Outlander plug-in hybrids, 17 i-MiEVs and 98 Minicab i-MiEVs to have their batteries replaced.
With Mitsubishi aiming to resume production of the two affected models by the end of August, once all recalled vehicles are fixed, Mitsubishi Australia's corporate communications manager Caitlin Beale told CarAdvice that the Outlander PHEV's expected mid-year local launch will likely be pushed back about six months to early 2014.
Despite the i-MiEV being on sale in Australia since 2010, only one battery on local shores has been caught up in the Japanese recall, and it is a spare battery not fitted to any vehicle.
In Europe, the Mitsubishi i-MiEV is also sold as the Peugeot iOn and Citroen C-Zero.