Sony says global battery recall is aimed at satisfying customers

Tuesday, October 24th 2006, 5:57 am
By: News On 6

TOKYO (AP) Sony executives apologized Tuesday for a global recall in laptop batteries, acknowledging that the troubles had caused worries and inconvenience to consumers.

The Japanese electronics and entertainment company said improvements in production, design and inspection have been made to prevent a recurrence of laptop overheating problems, which company officials said were caused by microscopic metal particles that mistakenly got inside the battery, causing short circuiting.

``We would like to take this opportunity to apologize for the worries,'' Sony Corporate Executive Officer Yutaka Nakagawa said, bowing slightly with two other executives at a news conference at a Tokyo hotel.

The executives were seated while they bowed and did not bow deeply standing as most Japanese executives generally do in public apologies for troubles at their companies, underlining how Sony has been reluctant to admit fault in the troubles with its laptop batteries.

Sony said last week that about 9.6 million lithium-ion batteries are being recalled worldwide after reports of some computers using the Sony battery packs overheating and bursting into flames.

Overnight a voluntary recall of 340,000 laptop batteries made by Sony Corp. was announced in the United States. The Consumer Product Safety Commission, the government's consumer watchdog agency, issued the formal recall notice for U.S. consumers.

The batteries, some of them in the Vaio brand laptop computers manufactured by Sony, could catch fire, the CPSC said.

Sony is replacing the batteries free of charge in the recall that is affecting almost every major laptop manufacturer in the world, including Dell Inc., Apple Computer Inc., Lenovo Group, Toshiba Corp. and Fujitsu Ltd.

The CPSC said that computers made by Gateway Inc. were also affected but would not specify a number.

The replacement program, which Sony started last month after major computer makers announced recalls of Sony made batteries, will cover about 3.5 million units excluding batteries previously recalled by Dell, Apple and Lenovo, Sony said in a statement.

About 9.6 million batteries will be recalled worldwide, including the estimated numbers for those three companies, the statement said, leaving unchanged a projection Sony made last Thursday.

Sony also left unchanged its estimate that the lithium-ion battery recalls will boost its costs by $427 million in the July-September period. Sony's statement such costs may grow.