Washington D.C. - Lenovo, IBM and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission today issued a recall for 526,000 Sony batteries in Thinkpad notebook computers. The recall comes after reports that a Lenovo system had caught fire at the Los Angeles LAX International Airport. The latest recall brings the tally to more than 6.4 million Sony batteries that are being recalled due to a fire hazard.
Another fire, another recall. The string of recalls of Sony-built notebook batteries continued on Thursday when Lenovo and IBM said that 168,500 Thinkpads in the U.S. and 526,000 systems worldwide are using battery packs that potentially can overheat and go off in flames.
In the CPSC posting, the companies said that "Lenovo has received one confirmed report of a battery overheating and causing a fire that damaged the notebook computer." According to Lenovo, the battery "caused enough smoking and sparking that a fire extinguisher was used to put it out." As a result, the firm felt convinced to recall batteries that were sold with or without the notebook models The recalled lithium-ion batteries were sold as standalone units or in combination with the Thinkpad T-Series (T43, T43p, T60); R Series (R51e, R52, R60, R60e); and X Series (X60, X60s).
The batteries recalled carry the part numbers of the ASM P/N and FRU P/N series: 92P1072, 92P1072, 92P1088, 92P1142, 92P1170, 92P1174 92P1073, 92P1089, 92P1141, 92P1169, 93P5028, 92P1173 or 93P5030.
All affected batteries were built in China and Japan, according to Lenovo. The devices were sold through Lenovo and IBM's Web sites, telephone and direct sales, and Lenovo and IBM authorized distributors between February 2005 and September 2006 as an accessory for between $150 and $180 and as part of Thinkpad notebooks with prices between $750 and $3500.
This recall is the third recall related to a potential fire hazard in Sony batteries, which prompted Dell to recall a total of 4.1 million notebooks and Apple 1.8 million notebooks. Toshiba also recalled 340,000 batteries dues to a charging or discharging problem.
Sony, which estimated that the Dell and Apple recalls would cost the company about $267 million, announced on Thursday that it has initiated a "global replacement program for certain battery packs that utilize Sony-manufactured lithium ion cells used by notebook computer manufacturers in order to address concern related to recent over-heating incidents."
According to the company, metal particles in the recalled battery cells may come into contact with other parts of the battery cell, "leading to a possibility of short circuit within the cell." Sony said that in a typical case, "a battery pack will simply power off when a cell short circuit occurs. However, under certain rare conditions an internal short circuit may lead to cell overheating and potentially flames." But while making concessions in terms of design errors, the company puts some blame on the notebook manufacturers: "The potential for [an overheating] to occur can be affected by variations in the system configurations found in different notebook computers. Sony believes that this engineering analysis remains valid."
The firm said that is discussing its recall plan with the US Consumer Product Safety Commission and "will coordinate with other government authorities as required."