(Corrects paragraphs 4 and 7 to say company found excessive
voltage, not pressure, and in paragraph 5 deletes word
By Sophie Knight
TOKYO, April 10 Mitsubishi Motors Corp
will extend its production and shipment stoppage of its
Outlander plug-in hybrids until it finds the cause of an
overheating lithium-ion battery in one of the vehicles, the
automaker said on Wednesday.
The company stopped production and shipments in late March,
as cutting-edge battery technology faces heightened scrutiny
after problems with batteries in Boeing Co 787 Dreamliner
Batteries on the Outlander plug-in hybrid are supplied by a
joint venture called Lithium Energy Japan, owned by Japan's GS
Yuasa Corp, Mitsubishi Corp and Mitsubishi
Motors. Kyoto-based GS Yuasa is also the battery maker for
Ryugo Nakao, managing director of Mitsubishi Motors, told
reporters there were two other cases in which Outlander
batteries had short-circuited and excessive voltage was
detected: one where a customer in Tokyo could not start the
vehicle, and another where a car in a dealership in Gifu
prefecture would not charge properly.
In the first case, the battery also short-circuited and
emitted a strange odour, he said, adding that company tests
found that the resin had melted.
In a separate case, a lithium-ion battery fire in a i-MiEV
electric vehicle at a Mitsubishi factory may have a similar
cause to the problems in the Outlander battery, but Mitsubishi
had been unable to confirm the exact cause in either case, Nakao
Mitsubishi Motors was exploring the possibility that the
batteries were dropped during processing which may have led to
excessive voltage, he said.
The executive could not say when the automaker will resume
production because it will not do so until it has found the
cause. While the company aims to finish the investigation by the
end of April, Nakao said they could not confirm when it would be
Mitsubishi Motors has sold 4,000 Outlander plug-in hybrid
cars to date and has received 4,000 more orders. The vehicle is
only sold in Japan, although it plans to sell the hybrid in
Europe starting in July.
By end-February, it had sold 8,400 i-MiEVs in Japan and
(Writing by Dominic Lau; Editing by Daniel Magnowski)