Sony to recall Vaio laptop batteries

Recall affects 90,000 battery packs so far, but it's expected to widen

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

The Tokyo-based company said it will offer replacements for around 90,000 battery packs sold with models of its Vaio PCs in Japan and China. The battery packs have 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.

Sony is planning to widen the recall to battery packs sold with PCs in other countries but has yet to finalize those details, said Daichi Yamafuji, a Sony spokesman in Tokyo.

The The VGP-BPS2B is used with some models of Vaio AR, FE, FS and SZ-series laptops while the VGP-BPS3A is used with Vaio T-series machines, according to information from Sony and a search of its Web site.

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

With its announcement  today, 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 Inc. in Japan. The cells are thought to contain metallic particles that under certain circumstances could cause a short circuit resulting in the battery catching fire.

The recalls began in mid-August, when Dell Inc. said 4.1 million batteries shipped with its laptops contained the cells. Within two weeks, Apple Computer Inc. 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 $167 million and $251 million. Earlier today, the company said it is considering revising its profit forecast for the year, in part because of the battery recall. Sony is due to announce its half-year earnings next week.

Copyright © 2006 IDG Communications, Inc.

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