2014 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEVEnlarge Photo
Prepare yourselves everyone--more electric cars have caught fire.
This time, Japanese automaker Mitsubishi has reported two battery fire incidents in Japan, related to two of its plug-in products--the Mitsubishi i electric car, and Outlander plug-in hybrid crossover.
A press release from Mitsubishi details each of the incidents, which happened within days of each other in March.
In the first incident, at Mitsubishi's Mizushima plant in the Okayama prefecture of Japan, a battery pack undergoing charging and discharging inspection started to smoke, before catching fire an hour later.
The pack was not connected to a car at the time, and aside from damage to the battery unit and a charging cable, no other damage or injuries resulted. The fire was extinguished by the local fire department.
The second event, two days later on March 20, was discovered at a dealership in Yokohama. A member of staff found themselves unable to move an Outlander Plug-In Hybrid from storage, before noticing a strange odor in the vehicle. Further inspection revealed part of the battery pack was melting. Once again, no injuries or further damage to the vehicle occurred.
Both packs have been sent to Mitsubishi's battery supplier, Lithium Energy Japan. The company is actually a joint venture between Mitsubishi and a certain GS Yuasa--a name you might be familiar with from Boeing's recent Dreamliner aircraft battery pack issues.
While Bloomberg reports Boeing will not stop testing the Dreamliner in light of these recent Mitsubishi fires, we'd point out once again, that airline and automobile lithium-ion packs aren't the same.
Mitsubishi's press release suspects defects in the manufacturing process, though full investigations are underway in both cases. As yet, these Mitsubishi battery failures are also isolated incidents.
Mitsubishi is contacting owners of potentially affected vehicles in Japan--mainly fleet users of 'i' electric cars and the 4,000 or so Japanese Outlander plug-in owners. In the meantime, it suggests Outlander owners refrain from charging or using the car's Charge Mode.
There is no word on vehicles outside of Japan, so existing U.S. Mitsubishi i owners shouldn't worry. Should Mitsubishi's investigation reveal manufacturing issues though, its battery partner could find itself on the end of yet another high-profile PR nightmare...