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Industry, CEA Speak Out On Battery Recall

In the aftermath of the latest notebook battery recall — this time by Apple — Gateway, Hewlett-Packard, Toshiba and the Consumer Electronics Association have issued statements to instill public confidence.

Gateway, which uses Sony as one of several battery suppliers, issued a written statement saying it has extensive internal controls to ensure product safety.

“Based on available information and our suppliers’ input, we do not believe our systems are at risk for the same malfunctions that caused our competitors to issue battery recalls. It appears that a combination of factors led to the fault requiring the recalls, and this combination is not present in our systems,” the company said.

Toshiba issued a similar statement.

HP said that while it does not use Sony-made battery packs it does use some Sony 2.4 amp hour cells in HP branded battery packs manufactured by third-parties. In addition, HP uses a different battery charging design than the defective Dell batteries and a different battery protection system than Apple.

“HP has been in contact with Sony, the manufacturer of the battery cells in question, and Sony has communicated that HP should not be impacted by these recalls,” an HP spokesman said, “To date, HP has received no reports of overheating causing a battery failure in Sony 2.4 amp hour cells used in battery packs manufactured for HP notebook PCs.

CEA president Gary Shapiro praised the efforts taken by Sony, Apple and Dell and stressed that the Lithium Ion technology used in the batteries is safe.

“They’re using an abundance of caution to ensure the safety and continued support of the millions of consumers of these products,” said CEA president/CEO Gary Shapiro. “This is an example of corporate citizenship in action and we are proud to support them.”

The CEA said about two billion lithium ion cells will be made this year.

On Aug. 24 Apple said it would recall 1.8 million Sony manufactured notebook computer batteries due to incidents where the batteries dangerously overheated.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission said there were nine reports of the batteries overheating, including two that resulted in minor burns and some property damage. About 1.1 million of the faulty batteries were sold in the United States between Oct. 2003 and Aug. 2006 through The Apple Store chain, the company’s online store and Apple authorized resellers.

The lithium ion batteries were used in Apple’s PowerBook G4 with a 15-inch display and the 12-inch versions of the PowerBook G4 and iBook G4. Consumers are advised to remove the batteries and use the included power cord to operate the computer until a new battery is received from Apple. Consumers can call the Apple Recall Hotline 1-800-275-2273 for more information.

This incident repeats what Dell endured last week when it was forced to recall 4.1 million Sony-made batteries. Sony said it would financially support Dell with the recall, but the company has not yet made a statement concerning Apple.

Sony reported that it had identified and corrected the manufacturing glitch that caused the batteries to overheat.