Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV Delayed Again Over New Regulation
The U.S. launch of the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV was already pushed back to 2015 due to battery production issues, but a new battery regulation now has the automaker pushing the electrified Outlander's on-sale date back to early 2016.
California regulators have requested the Outlander PHEV be equipped with a battery-monitoring unit that conducts onboard diagnosis of the lithium-ion battery capacity and output. The unit would notify the driver of possible degradation, which regulators consider important since "They think that deterioration of the battery might affect emissions," according to Tetsuya Tobe, manager of Mitsubishi production in an interview with Automotive News.
Although the automaker is working hard to fulfill the regulation that it was made aware of last year, it's ultimately causing the U.S. launch of the PHEV to be pushed back even further to late 2015 or early 2016. Limited production capacity at Lithium Energy Japan -- the Outlander PHEV's battery manufacturer -- originally caused the launch to be pushed back to 2015. Only 2000 Outlander batteries were being produced per month at the plant since it was also in charge of making batteries for the i-Miev, but Mitsubishi set up a line dedicated to the Outlander PHEV at a separate plant, increasing capacity to 4000 batteries a month.
This move will help Mitsubishi achieve its huge sales push for other markets. The Outlander PHEV is currently on sale in Japan and Europe, and the automaker plans on expanding to Australia, New Zealand, and Russia. Mitsubishi expects to sell 48,000 global units in the current fiscal year, representing a major jump from the 19,700 it sold in the previous fiscal year. When it comes time for the U.S. launch, though, the automaker will have to increase battery production yet again since it hopes to sell 63,000 global units by March 2016.
The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV will likely be joined by an Outlander Sport PHEV, and possibly a Montero in plug-in hybrid form.
Source: Automotive News (Subscription required).