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Mitsubishi has announced that the US market debut of its Outlander plug-in hybrid has been pushed back to 2015, the delay being brought about by snags that affected battery production last year. The automaker had earlier stated that it was postponing shipments to North America and would focus on delivering orders from Japan and Europe as a result of this.

Shortly after the SUV made its Japanese market debut last January, a lithium-ion battery short-circuited in a vehicle before it was delivered. An internal investigation found that batteries which had been improperly dropped as part of the screening process had found their way into the final supply stream from maker Lithium Energy Japan (LEJ).

Mitsubishi suspended production and shipments of the Outlander PHEV from March until the end of August. Production resumed at a rate of 2,000 units a month, and has now climbed to 4,000 units a month. Reports indicate that this will increase to 5,000 a month in April as LEJ is set to further increase production capability of its battery packs.

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While production capacity will be 60,000 units a year, the five-month long delay in 2013 production means that much of the build was to offset back orders for the SUV, which stood at around 18,000 units in August last year.

In March last year, Mitsubishi Motors Malaysia announced that it would be launching the Outlander PHEV at the end of 2013 – the production issue put paid to that. Word is that we can expect to see the SUV arrive here in 2015.

The five-seater is powered by a combination of a 2.0 litre MIVEC Generator petrol unit offering 94 hp and a Twin Motor 4WD system comprising two independent 60 kW electric motors driving both front and rear wheels. The vehicle has a cruising range in excess of 880 km.

We’ve test driven the Outlander PHEV in Japan – read the review here.