Sony plans battery replacement program

Sony plans to do its own recall of certain batteries in cooperation with some notebook makers.

Sony will conduct its own replacement program to address overheating problems that have hit some notebook batteries.

The company is planning a worldwide program to replace battery packs that use certain Sony lithium-ion cells, according to a brief statement issued Thursday. It is discussing the plan with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and will also work with governments in other countries. More details will come soon, Sony said.

The planned replacement program will address the cells involved in Dell and Apple Computer recalls earlier this year, said Sony spokesman David Yang. It will reach other vendors that used those batteries. Sony is already talking to some manufacturers and will work with the system vendors on possible recalls, he said. The affected cells were made between January 2004 and February 2006, Yang said.

The announcement came the same day that a fourth notebook vendor, Lenovo Group, recalled Sony-based battery packs used in its products. A recall by Toshiba followed Dell's and Apple's actions.

Sony has helped support notebook makers' recalls but has not yet initiated a program itself. The recalls have been one more embarrassment for consumer electronics and media giant, which has suffered a number of pratfalls in recent years.

In the case of the lithium-ion cells involved in this replacement program, microscopic metal particles in the battery cells can come into contact with other parts of the cell and cause a short circuit, Sony said in its statement. The battery normally powers off at that point, but "under certain rare conditions" the short circuit may lead to overheating and fire, the company said.

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Stephen Lawson

IDG News Service

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