Mitsubishi Still Battery Constrained, But Working On It

In September we reported Mitsubishi’s Outlander Plug-In Hybrid was delayed by battery supply limitations, and this week the company reports it still is, but is attempting to get free as it attempts to revive its brand.

The Outlander PHEV is one of a few cars considered pivotal to a multi-year expansion plan that includes plug-in versions of the Outlander Sport compact crossover and Pajero SUV by the spring of 2017.

Last month, Mitsubishi signed on with the Nissan-Renault Alliance to expend EV and electrified powertrain capacity even still.

In November the company said that by 2020 that 20-percent of its portfolio will consist of plug-in cars.

Mitsubishi’s gas version of the Outlander arrived in the U.S. in July. It has also begun selling in Japan and other markets the Outlander PHEV, then it recalled vehicles over battery issues, but despite these setbacks, has a sizable percentage of vehicles sold in plug-in trim.

Globally, Automotive News reports 11,300 Outlander PHEVs sold compared to 74,400 gas models. The breakout for the PHEVs is 8,100 in Japan, 3,200 in Europe.

According to Mitsubishi President Osamu Masuko, the bottleneck is Lithium Energy Japan (LEJ) which is a joint venture between Mitsubishi, GS Yuasa Corp. and Mitsubishi Corp.

Despite demand, LEJ was delivering just 2,000 battery packs per month this fall, and these were being divvied up with some going to the Mitsubishi i-MiEV and the Outlander PHEV.

Supply is reportedly up to 4,000 per month and in April 2014, Masuko expects this to increase to 5,000.

“That means about 60,000 units annually for the plug-in,” Masuko said in an Automotive News nterview. “We can make only 30,000 plug-in vehicles this year. It’s going to be double.”

After April, Masuko said, Mitsubishi will still need more batteries to support U.S. demand that will be coming online.

Where it might get these was not divulged, but the company is willing to go outside its own joint venture’s supply if needed.

Its only other known battery supplier has been Toshiba Corp, which supplied lithium-ion packs for base level i-MiEV models.

Undoubtedly Mitsibusihi is working on it, so we may hear more on this assuming it irons out the kinks constraining its plans.

Automotive News