Canon to inspect 1.87 million copiers worldwide over fire risk; will replace faulty parts

Tuesday, September 12th 2006, 11:21 am
By: News On 6

TOKYO (AP) _ Canon Inc. said Tuesday it will inspect and provide free parts replacements for 1.87 million personal copiers worldwide because of a risk some may catch fire.

The copiers at risk are spread across 11 models manufactured from 1987 to 1997 and sold worldwide, the Tokyo-based company said in a statement.

Of these, 820,000 were sold in North America, 690,000 in Europe, 140,000 in Japan and 220,000 in other regions, according to Canon spokesman Mayuko Yaguchi.

A problem with the copiers' wiring means the machines could overheat and emit smoke or catch fire, Yaguchi said. Three instances of copiers overheating have been reported since 1992, the latest in July this year, but there have been no injuries, she said.

The company expects to spend 200 million yen ($1.7 million) worldwide providing free inspections and part replacements for the copiers thought to be at risk. The models include Canon's PC6, 7, 8 and 11 home copiers and the larger NP1010, 1020 and 6010 copiers.

In Japan, the company will post notices on its Web site and in national newspapers calling for owners to submit copiers for inspections. Officials were still mulling how to offer inspections and replacements overseas, but will shortly post instructions on its global Web sites, according to Canon.

Analysts said the latest news was unlikely to dent Canon's recent strong performance.

``I don't expect inspection costs to make a significant impact on Canon's profits for this year,'' said Damian Thong, a senior technology analyst at Macquarie Securities Japan.

``Canon's brand image won't be seriously hurt, given the trouble affects products made a long time ago,'' he said.

Canon, the world's top manufacturer of digital cameras, has been lauded for its consistent profitability amid difficulties facing other Japanese makers.

In July, it cited robust overseas demand for its digital cameras and copiers when it raised its net profit outlook for 2006 to 440 billion yen ($3.76 billion) from an earlier forecast of 432 billion yen, putting the company on track for a seventh year of record earnings.

Canon's copier trouble follows huge recalls by U.S.-based companies Dell Inc. and Apple Computer Inc. over defective laptop batteries made by Japan's Sony Corp. The batteries also posed fire risks. Dell asked customers to return 4.1 million faulty laptop batteries, while Apple recalled 1.8 million batteries worldwide.

Earlier this month, Japanese manufacturer Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. also recalled 6,000 batteries used in its Panasonic brand laptops on concerns they might overheat