Sony Battery Recall to Hit 9.6 Million

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The Associated Press
Friday, October 20, 2006; 1:11 AM

TOKYO -- The number of laptop batteries Sony is recalling will total 9.6 million worldwide, the company said Thursday, shedding more light on the scope of a problem that has rattled confidence in the company's image.

The estimate came just hours after Sony Corp. slashed its fiscal year profit forecasts due to the massive battery recalls and price cuts in Japan for the next-generation PlayStation 3 video game console.

Sony said the recalls of lithium-ion batteries will boost its costs by 51 billion yen ($429 million) in the July-September period. Sony spokesman Takashi Uehara said the 51 billion yen figure doesn't include "provisions for possible lawsuits" suggesting costs may actually grow.

Sony's defective battery packs have caused massive recalls, with nearly every major laptop computer maker to ask customers to return their batteries subject to replacement.

The problem stems from batteries that can short-circuit, causing some computers to overheat or even burst into flames. Previously, Sony had not provided a figure of how many batteries would be subject to recall.

Earlier Thursday, the Tokyo-based electronics maker cut its earnings forecast, saying it now expects group net profit of 80 billion yen ($673 million) for the fiscal year through March, down 38 percent from the 130 billion yen it had forecast in July.

Sony-made batteries have been recalled in recent weeks by U.S. makers Dell Inc. and Apple Computer Inc., as well as Japanese makers Toshiba Corp., Hitachi Ltd., Fujitsu and Sharp Corp. whose laptops also use Sony batteries.

Sony is joining the recall with its own Vaio laptops and that will also trim earnings for the current fiscal year, Sony said.

The estimated total of 9.6 million batteries include the latest recalls of 90,000 batteries in Vaio, Sony said.


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© 2006 The Associated Press

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