Early last month we reported on a couple of separate fire incidents that cast a shadow over Mitsubishi's two electric vehicles, the i-MiEV minicar and the Outlander Plug-In Hybrid.

As the latest in a string of battery fire incidents from various manufacturers, it was a problem Mitsubishi wanted to fix quickly--and the Japanese automaker solved the issue before the month was out.

Now, the company is set to expand Outlander Plug-In Hybrid production to 4,000 units per month, double that of early estimates.

Battery fire fixed

Mitsubishi chose to halt production of its plug-in Outlander last month after a fire incident at a dealer in Yokohama, Japan.

A member of staff found themselves unable to move one of the vehicles, before smelling a strange odor--and under closer inspection, discovered part of the battery pack was melting.

Nobody was hurt in the incident, but the company quickly halted production and issued a recall to deal with the issues.

The cause was found to be the result of a new screening process on the battery manufacturer's production line. The process introduced a defect to the battery's internal structure, which allowed microscopic contaminents to affect the battery's performance.

The screening process has been removed again, and the vehicle is now back in production.

Big plans

Mitsubishi's global sales fell slightly in 2012 compared to 2011, but the company is back on the up for 2013, partly thanks to the launch of the new Mirage and Outlander, as well as the plug-in version.

The Nagoya plant building the Outlander PHEV will expand production from 2,000 units per month to 4,000 per month, from September 2013.

Production will be enhanced as Mitsubishi consolidates the battery and motor installation from a sub-assembly line to the main Outlander line.

With a likely electric range of 20-25 miles once it's tested to EPA standards (it's 35 miles on the Japanese cycle) and 245 pounds-feet of torque from its electric all-wheel drive system, it's sure to make a mark in the U.S. too--as the first plug-in hybrid SUV on the market.


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