Fire fears spark Dell laptop battery recall


Dell, the world's largest computer manufacturer, has recalled more than four million computer batteries used in its laptops amid fears of a fire risk.

Customers affected by the recall are being warned to stop using the batteries immediately and have been instructed to contact the company to obtain replacements.

The voluntary recall of the lithium-ion batteries, which are manufactured by Sony, affects those which were placed in laptops shipped by Dell between April 2004 and July 2006.

A spokesman for Dell warned that in "rare cases" a defect in the batteries could cause them to overheat and even catch fire.

"In rare cases, a short circuit could cause the battery to overheat, causing a risk of smoke and fire," said Dell's Ira Williams.

"It happens in rare cases, but we opted to take this broad action immediately," he added.

The action taken by Dell follows the publication of photographs showing a Dell laptop bursting into flames during a conference in Osaka, Japan. Similar incidents were subsequently reported across the world.

Dell said that it had been made aware of six instances, since December, when the Sony-made batteries had over-heated or caught fire, although there have been no reported injuries as a result.

The company is recalling batteries used in later models of its Latitude, Inspiron, XTS and precision mobile workstation laptops, with most of the computers affected thought to have been sold in the US.

Apple Computers, which also uses the lithium-ion batteries, has said that it is examining the risk that they pose to consumers.

Meanwhile, attention is currently focused on the impact that the recall is likely to have on the commercial reputation of Dell, which has struggled to compete with rival Hewlett Packard in recent times.

Dismissing the effect of the recall, the company's chairman and founder Michael Dell, said that the company did not expect any material impact on its business as a result.

Mr Dell, currently in Australia, told a news conference that his company was still investigating reports that some of its laptops had caught fire.

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