Reuters is reporting that Mitsubishi Motors has voluntarily recalled 14,700 electric cars worldwide for a braking issue. The model affected by the recall sold in the US is the battery-powered Mitsubishi i-Miev.
The issue with the braking reportedly lies within the electric air pump that supplies vacuum to the brake booster. In a gasoline engine, vacuum is created simply by the engine running. Some of that vacuum force is routed to the brake booster, which has a gigantic diaphragm inside it, which multiplies the force of the brake pedal. An electric motor of course doesn’t create vacuum so the onboard batteries must also power an electric air pump, which replicates the vacuum created by a gasoline engine. That vacuum force is then piped to the brake booster on an EV in the same way it is on a gasoline car.
When this air pump fails, braking is made much more difficult and requires more braking force from the driver, inevitably increasing braking distance. No injuries, deaths, or fires have been reportedly attributed to the failing pump. Replacing the faulty pump will only take about an hour, Mitsubishi says.
The i-Miev currently stands as the least expensive full EV on the American auto market. It also stands as the worst selling of EVs, having been significantly outsold by the Nissan LEAF.
In Europe, the i-Miev is sold as the PSA Peugeot Citroen iOn. Mitsubishi motors declined to reveal how many European models are being recalled for the braking issue.
The i-Miev recall currently stands as the largest electric vehicle recall to-date. In 2012, Fisker recalled 2,400 of its Karma models for a faulty cooling fan. Having exported around 27,000 i-Miev units since 2009, not all vehicles sold fall under the recall order.
We really love the i-Miev and hope the recall doesn’t tarnish the brand too badly. When folks ask us for an EV recommendation, we always point first to the i-Miev for its cheap price, great design, and fun driving characteristics.