Panasonic recall for overheating batteries tops 300,000

Lithium-ion batteries overheated and in some cases caught fire in Japan

Panasonic has vastly expanded a recall of lithium-ion batteries at risk of overheating that affects ruggedized Toughbook tablets as well as notebook computers.

The electronics maker added 98,520 CF-VZSU53AW battery packs for the H2 Toughbook tablet outside Japan to the recall, up from 8,530 announced in May. The Toughbook batteries were manufactured between June 2011 and September 2013.

It also added 164,736 battery packs sold in Japan, mainly for Let's Note notebook computers, to its May recall of 43,140 for a domestic total of 207,876.

That brings the combined tally to 314,926 batteries.

The company said four incidents of overheating involving batteries in Japan had occurred since the May recall, which mentioned six incidents.

Out of all the incidents in Japan, one person each in Tokyo and Saitama, a prefecture just outside the capital, suffered "light burns" on their fingers when the batteries caught fire, a Panasonic spokeswoman said.

There were no incidents involving batteries sold overseas with the H2, a 10.1-inch Windows tablet with twin battery packs that is geared for heavy-duty environments.

Panasonic has a website on the H2 battery recall with detailed information including a note that the battery can also be used in the H1 and U1 tablets as well, so users should check to see if they've been swapped in.

The cause of the overheating was an error in the manufacturing process, the spokeswoman added. Panasonic will replace the batteries for free.

The expanded recall follows numerous other incidents involving batteries overheating including Lenovo's March recall for certain ThinkPad battery packs.

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Tim Hornyak

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