In yet another body blow for the electric vehicle industry it was today revealed that Mitsubishi Motors Corporation is recalling 14,700 electric vehicles due to brake problems. These issues are exclusively associated with the company’s electric vehicles and even though this recall is relatively small compared to the number of petrol vehicles which have been recalled over the years it is still around 50% of overall sales of these particular vehicles.
What cars are being recalled?
The company has revealed that 3,400 i-MiEV EVs and 2,400 MINICAB-MiEV vehicles have been recalled in Japan with around 8,900 i-MiEV vehicles also being recalled in Europe. While there have been no accidents directly associated with the ongoing brake problem the company has obviously erred on the side of caution with regards to such an important aspect of the vehicle. It is believed that only one particular part of the braking system has been found to have problems and this will be relatively easy for the company to fix once the cars have been recalled.
What is the cost of this recall?
While the number of vehicles set to be recalled is relatively small, and the direct financial implications are relatively minor in the overall picture, it is more the image of the company and EVs which will suffer. If you look back towards the end of 2012 we had the issue of the Nissan Leaf battery problem which was headline news for some time and did more damage to the electric vehicle industry. This fresh issue will be headline news for the next few days at a time when the electric vehicle industry is looking to penetrate the worldwide consumer sector.
Does this impact Mitsubishi’s electric vehicle strategy?
While there is no doubt this has done short-term damage to the reputation of Mitsubishi it is also worth noting that the company has erred on the side of caution and recalled these vehicles before there have been any accidents. The issue itself relates to the distance at which a vehicle will travel when under braking which has been extended due to problems with an electric pump. Historically we have seen scandals in other areas of the automobile industry where issues and problems have been ignored for some time but Mitsubishi has reacted as soon as possible.
In some ways we should be taking our hats off to the company for the speed at which it has reacted, the fact that no accidents have been directly linked the problem and the fact that vehicles will be repaired at no cost to the owner.
One step forward, two steps back with the electric vehicle industry
At this moment in time it seems as if the electric vehicle market takes one step forward and two steps back with a number of high-profile issues having grabbed the headlines. This does mask to a great extent developments in technology and battery power which have made the modern-day electric vehicle very different to that of its counterpart just 10 years ago or even five years ago. Once these “issues” have been ironed out then we should see more positive feedback and more positive headlines about the industry although at the moment Mitsubishi Electric Vehicles are certainly grabbing more than their fair share of media attention.
It will be interesting to see how consumers react to this latest difficulty with an electric vehicle as it does nothing for the sector’s public relations. It is very easy to get scared about certain issues such as this announced by Mitsubishi but the fact is that the company highlighted the problem, there have been no accidents and all vehicles affected have been recalled. Whether the speed at which new electric vehicles are released to the market slows down in the short to medium term, with perhaps more safety checks and testing required, remains to be seen.