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Laptop battery crisis widens

Sony's Vaios added to list of recalls

Sony has added its name to a growing list of computer makers recalling laptop batteries made by one of its own subsidiaries.

The company said it will offer replacements for around 90,000 battery packs sold with models of its Vaio PCs in Japan and China initially, before widening the recall to battery packs sold with systems in other countries.

The initial set of recalls covers battery packs with the model names VGP-BPS2B and VGP-BPS3A. The former was used with PCs sold in China while the latter was used in Vaio T-series laptops sold in Japan and in models sold overseas, Sony said in a statement. The company has yet to finalise details of the product recalls in other countries, said Daichi Yamafuji, a spokesman for Sony in Tokyo.

The Nihon Keizai Shimbun business newspaper said the Sony battery exchange would reach around 300,000 units by the time it had been announced worldwide. Sony did not comment on the newspaper report.

With this announcement, Sony becomes the seventh company to recall or offer to exchange laptop PC battery packs. All the batteries include cells made at Sony Energy Tech in Japan. The cells are thought to contain metallic particles, which under certain circumstances could cause a short circuit resulting in the battery catching fire.

The recalls began in mid-August when Dell said 4.1 million batteries shipped with its laptops contained the cells. Within two weeks Apple recalled 1.8 million battery packs. Those two recalls remain the largest of the nine announced by seven companies over the last two months.

In late August Sony said its cost for the recalls would be between ¥20bn and ¥30bn (about £90m to £135m). The company is considering revising its profits forecast for the year, in part because of the battery recall. Sony is due to announce its half-year earnings next week.

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