SAN JOSE, Calif. -- The massive global recall of batteries made by Sony Corp. widened yesterday as Japanese electronics maker Fujitsu Ltd. said it is recalling 287,000 laptop batteries that are at risk of overheating or catching fire.
The move brings the number of lithium-ion batteries replaced worldwide to more than 7 million, according to the U S Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Fujitsu said the recall would affect 224,000 laptops sold outside Japan across 10 models, including the popular Lifebook series. The remaining 63,000 were sold in Japan. Company officials refused to describe the recall's cost.
Fujitsu's decision follows similar moves by other major notebook computer makers, with the first and largest coming from Dell Inc. at 4.2 million, followed by Apple Computer Inc. at 1.8 million. Lenovo Group Ltd. and Toshiba Corp. joined the recall last week.
Hewlett-Packard Co., the world's second-largest PC provider next to Dell, stated Monday it will not be issuing a recall. The company said it reviewed its products with Sony batteries and found that the designs were not prone to the overheating issues other companies seem to face.
Dell's recall, in August, came after six instances of overheating or fire involving systems with Sony-made batteries.
The risk of fire or smoke is low, said Julie Vallese, a spokeswoman for the Consumer Product Safety Commission. There were about 50 incidents of burning batteries reported in the past five years, while tens of millions of notebook computers were sold in the United States, she said.
The risk stems in part from the manufacturing process. The batteries can short-circuit because tiny shards of metal are left in their cells during production, Sony said.
Spokesman Rick Clancy said Sony has added safeguards in the past few years -- even before the recall started -- to reduce the loose metal pieces, but he stressed that they cannot be eliminated entirely.
Clancy said Sony expects within a few days to nail down the scope of the problem and the number of batteries affected.
Other factors, however, could also be causing batteries to overheat or smoke, said Vallese at the Consumer Product Safety Commission. How consumers use a laptop as well as faulty power adapters could raise the risk of failure, she said.
The design and final product assembly by individual computer makers also vary and can change the risk, she said.