By Associated Press Writer
updated 3/2/2007 9:30:09 AM ET 2007-03-02T14:30:09

Chinese PC maker Lenovo Inc. recalled about 205,000 laptop computer batteries made by Japan's Sanyo Electric Co., warning that they could overheat and cause a fire.

The worldwide battery recall announced Thursday was the second for the company in the past six months and comes as Lenovo, the world's No. 3 computer maker, tries to gain ground on its better-known competitors.

The latest recall includes about 100,000 batteries in the United States and another 105,000 worldwide, Lenovo spokesman Bob Page said. The recall follows four reports of overheating. In one case, a user suffered minor eye irritation, the company said.

Lenovo, which has its world headquarters in North Carolina's Research Triangle Park, said consumers should stop using the recalled products immediately. It said the batteries can overheat if the laptop is dropped a certain way, striking the battery on a corner edge. The advisory was made with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Sanyo officials defended the batteries Friday, saying the problems resulted from a strong external impact to the battery and were not triggered by the batteries themselves.

Sanyo said it was supporting Lenovo's recall and has already taken steps toward "working together with Lenovo and putting the first priority on consumer safety."

The company was still assessing how much the recall would cost and could not comment on the matter, Sanyo spokesman Akihiko Oiwa said.

A Lenovo spokeswoman in Hong Kong, Angela Lee, declined to give the cost of the recall but said Sanyo was helping to pay for it. Lenovo did not break down where the batteries were sold by country, she said.

"From a competitive perspective, we expect this recall to have only minimal, if any, impact," said Lenovo spokesman Ray Gorman.

In September, IBM Corp. and Lenovo said they were seeking the recall of 526,000 rechargeable, lithium-ion Sony batteries purchased with ThinkPad computers after one of them caught fire at Los Angeles International Airport. Lenovo bought IBM Corp.'s personal computer division in 2005.

The earlier recall was part of a global recall of more than 10 million Sony-built batteries that were used in notebooks from Apple Inc., Dell Inc., Lenovo and others.

Lenovo said Thursday it sold the extended-life batteries with new ThinkPad notebook PCs or as optional or replacement batteries for ThinkPad notebook models R60, R60e, T60, T60p, Z60m, Z61e, Z61m, and Z61p. The recalled nine-cell batteries have the part number FRU P/N 92P1131.

Lenovo bought IBM's personal computer division in 2005 and about 1,500 of Lenovo's 20,000 employees work in Research Triangle Park.

Lenovo cut 1,000 jobs worldwide last year and had an operating loss in the most recent quarter for the division that covers the U.S. and Canada. The company's chief financial officer has told analysts the situation in North America "is the cause of greatest concern."

Meanwhile, in Asia, companies such as Dell are gaining ground and sales growth for Lenovo is slowing, adding pressure on the company to increase sales in Europe and the U.S.

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