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Battery backlog delays US debut of Outlander hybrid by 2 years

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Although the gas version of Mitsubishi’s Outlander has been available in the US since July, Americans looking to buy the plug-in version will now have to waituntil 2015 due to backlogs in battery production at supplier Lithium Energy Japan, which is producing the power packs for both Outlander and Mistubishi’s i electric cars.

According to Mitsubishi President Osamu Masuko, the company is only able to get 4,000 plug-in battery packs a month, although he expects deliveries to increase by 1,000 more by April.

"That means will be able to double our production to about 60,000 units annually for the plug-in," he stated during a recent interview.

The hybrid Outlanders hit Japanese showrooms last January, where it has sold 8,100 vehicles. Another 3,200 have also been sold in Europe since the beginning of 2013. This is in comparison to 74,400 gas versions sold around the world during the same period.

Mitsubishi has sold 11,300 plug-in Outlanders globally since January: 8,100 in Japan, half of which were recalled due to defective batteries that tended to short-circuit due to sloppy workmanship and handling at the factory level. Another 3,200 units were sold in Europe. That compares with 74,400 gasoline versions sold worldwide.

To compensate for the slowdown Mitsubishi has turned to Toshiba corp. for a limited supply of lithium ion battery packs for use in a “low-trim” version of the i-MiEV electric car sold in Japan, and has just signed a pact with the Nissan-Renault Alliance to work together on developing a future compact EV and electrified drivetrain technology.

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