Dell to recall batteries, cites fire hazard

The recall is the largest in the history of consumer electronics

Computer maker Dell Inc. will recall 4.1 million laptop computer batteries because of a potential fire hazard, the company announced Monday.

The lithium-ion batteries being recalled are installed in 4.1 million laptops sold between April 2004 and July 18 of this year. According to Dell, the affected laptops are the Latitude D410, D500, D505, D510, D520, D600, D610, D620, D800 and D810; the Inspiron 6000, 8500, 8600, 9100, 9200, 9300, 500m, 510m, 600m, 6400, E1505, 700m, 710m, 9400 and E1705; the Precision M20, M60, M70 and M90 mobile workstations; and the XPSTM, XPS Gen2, XPS M170 and XPS M1710.

"Under rare conditions, it is possible for these batteries to overheat, which could cause a risk of fire," Dell said. It urged customers to visit its Web site or call toll-free (866) 342-0011, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Central Daylight Time.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), which investigated the fire hazard, said this will be the largest recall in the history of the consumer electronics industry, according to news reports.

According to the CPSC Web site, lithium-ion batteries have been cited in recalls of other laptop models, including computers from Hewlett-Packard Co. and Apple Computer Inc.

Dell made other voluntary recalls of 22,000 laptop batteries in December 2005, 284,000 in 2001 and 27,000 in 2000, according to the CPSC.

In those instances, Dell and the CPSC urged consumers to stop using the laptops' batteries until they received a replacement. Lithium-ion batteries are used in cell phones, camcorders, digital cameras and other consumer electronics products.

Dell reported six instances in which laptops overheated and caused fires since last December, although no one was injured in any of the incidents, according to The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. Dell said the overheating was caused by a manufacturing defect in the batteries, which were made for Dell by Sony Corp., the newspapers reported.

The batteries were also sold separately, including in response to service calls. "Dell" and one of the following are printed on the batteries: "Made in Japan," "Made in China," or "Battery Cell Made in Japan Assembled in China," Dell said.

Copyright © 2006 IDG Communications, Inc.

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