Japan's Mitsubishi reports battery overheat problems

TOKYO (AFP) - Japanese automaker Mitsubishi Motors on Wednesday asked 4,000 owners of its hybrid and electric cars to avoid charging their vehicles pending an investigation into overheating batteries.

The move follows the melting of a lithium battery pack in a hybrid Outlander that was due for sale earlier this month, as well as a fire triggered by an overheating unit in a factory which produces the MiEV electric vehicle.

No one was injured in either incident nor was there damage to facilities.

Nearly 4,000 units of the plug-in hybrid model have been sold since its launch in January, "and we asked its owners not to charge the batteries until the cause of the incident can be confirmed", a company spokeswoman said.

The company has sold at least 68 units of its fully electric vehicle with the same battery model.

"We suspect the two cases were caused by a change in the production line of the battery supplier," the spokeswoman said, adding that the company had not received any similar complaints from owners of the two models.

The troubled batteries were made by a joint venture formed by Mitsubishi Motors, Mitsubishi Corp and GS Yuasa.

GS Yuasa drew global attention over the worldwide grounding of Boeing's next generation aircraft in January after a battery on a Japan Airlines 787 caught fire and forced an ANA flight to make an emergency landing.

GS Yuasa has the contract for all Dreamliner batteries. Japanese authorities have said they had found no major problem on the company's production line making batteries for Boeing's Dreamliner.

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