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Sony to launch notebook battery recall

Electronics giant plans to recall 340,000 rechargeable lithium ion batteries that shipped with notebook computers in the U.S.

Sony plans to recall 340,000 rechargeable lithium ion batteries that shipped with notebook computers in the U.S., the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission announced Monday.

Batteries that shipped with laptops sold by Fujitsu, Gateway, Sony and Toshiba comprise this recall, the CPSC said. Sony is expected to make its own official announcement at a Tuesday press conference in Japan, CPSC said in a statement. The worldwide tally of potentially defective batteries used in laptops made by these four PC makers is more than 3 million, the CPSC said.

The U.S. commission's decision to recall the batteries is based on 16 previous reports of notebook batteries overheating, causing minor property damage and two minor burns, the statement says. It cautions that there have been no reported incidents involving batteries sold by Fujitsu, Gateway, Sony or Toshiba.

The CPSC determined, in conjunction with Sony, that the battery recall is limited to notebook computers and does not affect other electronic devices with batteries made by Sony, said Julie Vallese, the CPSC's director of information and public affairs.

The announcement put Gateway in the recall spotlight for the first time since August, when reports of battery defects first surfaced. Notified two weeks ago by Sony, Gateway decided to issue a voluntary recall of the batteries contained in 18 of its notebook models, said Lisa Emard, director of media relations for Gateway.

"We have not seen any of the types of issues they've described in these batteries in our systems," she said.

Gateway announced on Monday a recall of 35,000 lithium-ion batteries made by Sony. The notebooks affected by the recall were shipped in September 2005 and include the following Gateway notebook models: Gateway CX200, CX210, E100M, M250, M255, M280, M285, M465, M685, MP8708, NX260, NX510, NX560, NX860, NX100, MX1025, MX6918b and MX1020j.

Gateway said it will replace the batteries free of charge and has asked customers to either call its hotline at 800-292-6814 or visit its Web site for more information.

Sony will cover the replacement and incidental costs, Gateway said, while Gateway will absorb the administrative costs of dealing with the situation.

The CPSC said that 40,000 Fujitsu, 85,000 Sony and 210,000 Toshiba notebooks sold in the U.S. are also affected by the announcement.

Dell, Apple Computer, Lenovo and Sharp have also issued massive recalls for the faulty batteries shipped with their notebooks. In total, more than 8 million Sony notebook batteries worldwide have been recalled.

CNET's Candace Lombardi contributed to this report.