Hitachi to Recall 16,000 Sony-Made Laptop Batteries

Japan's Hitachi Ltd. (HIT) said Friday that it plans to recall about 16,000 laptop battery packs made by Sony Corp. (SNE), a company spokesman said, the latest in a massive global recall of the batteries that can overheat and catch fire.

The battery packs were installed in the company's Flora 210W and Flora Se210 laptop personal computers for the Japanese market, Hitachi spokesman Masahiro Takahashi said.

Hitachi has not received any reports of problems with the batteries, the company said in a statement. It said it is undertaking the recall "for its customers' peace of mind."

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Almost every major laptop maker has told customers to return Sony-made lithium-ion batteries, which can overheat and catch fire.

The largest recalls have been issued by Dell Inc. (DELL), with 4.2 million batteries affected, and Apple Computer Inc. (AAPL), with 1.8 million batteries.

Sony expects costs of at least $170 million related to the Dell and Apple recalls.

[Last week, IBM (IBM) and Lenovo recalled more than half a million Sony batteries installed on ThinkPad laptops worldwide, and a day later Toshiba recalled 830,000 Sony-made batteries. On Wednesday of this week, Fujitsu recalled 287,000 of the batteries.]

According to Sony, the batteries can short-circuit because shards of metal were left in their cells during production in Japan. Dell's recall came after six instances of overheating or fire involving Dell systems with Sony-made batteries.

Sony's battery woes have been one of many headaches for a company struggling to regain its reputation for high quality.

Sony has been trying to overhaul its electronics operations under Welsh-born Howard Stringer, the first foreigner to head the company, and has found success in its flat-panel television and digital camera operations.

But a delay in the launch of its much-anticipated PlayStation 3 video game console and weakness against rival Apple's iPod in portable music players has cast doubts on whether the maker of the legendary Walkman can regain its former glory.