“Dell is recalling 4.1 million notebook computer batteries because they could erupt in flames, the company said today. This will be the largest safety recall in the history of the consumer electronics industry, the Consumer Product Safety Commission said… the lithium-ion batteries were made by Sony and were installed in notebooks sold between April 2004 and July 18 of this year,” Damon Darlin reports for The New York Times.
“Dell said the problems were a result of a manufacturing defect in batteries made by Sony,” Darlin reports. “The safety agency said the batteries were not unique to Dell, meaning that other companies using Sony batteries may also have to issue recalls. Sony has sold its batteries to all the major computer makers, including Hewlett-Packard, Toshiba, Lenovo and Apple.”
“The recalled batteries were used in 2.7 million computers sold in the United States and 1.4 million sold overseas. The total is about 18 percent of Dell’s notebook production during the period in question,” Darlin reports. “Depending on how many are still in use, the cost of the recall could exceed $300 million. Dell refused to estimate the cost, but said the recall would not materially affect its profits. Sony, which affirmed that its batteries were responsible, said it was ‘financially supporting’ Dell in the recall.”
Darlin reports, “The current recall also leaves many questioned unanswered on how Dell, as well as the product safety commission, deals with information about fire-damaged notebooks. Although Dell told the agency that only six incidents had occurred, a reporter viewed almost 100 photos of melted notebooks that were returned to the company between 2002 and 2004. The photos, from a Dell database, were supplied by a former Dell technician, Robert Day, who said such damage ‘was more of a common thing than they are letting on.’ As many as several hundred a year were returned. Mr. Day said, ‘I did see so many pallets of stuff coming in that they had to use my lab for overflow storage.'”
“An Apple spokeswoman, Lynn Fox, said today, ‘We are currently investigating whether batteries that have been supplied to Apple for our current and previous notebook lines meet our high standards for battery safety and performance,'” Darlin reports. “The new Dell batteries, which the company hopes to distribute over the next four weeks, will be made by Sony and other vendors. Dell said it was confident that Sony had solved the problem by changing part of its manufacturing methods.”
Full article here.
[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Woof-X” for the heads up.]
MacDailyNews Take: Ouch. 4.1 million is a lot of anything. As we stated in response to the Dell laptop fire in Japan: “Almost always, this is an issue of shoddily-produced batteries. Virtually every PC company, including Apple, have not been immune to such issues in the past. Hopefully, this will never happen on a plane (or anywhere else again). Generally, we’re of the opinion that as PC companies race to the bottom in a desperate price race, we feel much safer with Apple’s quality vs. all others as Apple is not dependent on operating on razor-thin margins that might affect product quality.”
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