New Delhi: Nokia Oyj, the mobile phone maker with a dominating half-share of the booming Indian market for cellphones, said it has exchanged around a quarter of the defective batteries it is replacing in one of the world’s biggest product recalls.
However, the Espoo, Finland-headquartered vendor, which has declined to state the number of ‘BL-5C’ series of batteries—some of which are the source of overheating complaints—sold in India, on Monday refused to give the exact replacement numbers.
The company has said its early studies of reported battery explosion incidents in the last week in India revealed that they involved counterfeit batteries or chargers bought from the open market. “We are examining around 10-12 so-called incidents of batteries exploding... In the majority of them, the battery is fake or the phone has been tampered with,” D. Shivakumar, head of Nokia’s handset business in India, told reporters.
Nokia, which said the defective batteries were sourced from Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., issued an advisory on 14 August after finding around 100 cases worldwide of batteries being physically deformed because of overheating. It said it was replacing 46 million batteries worldwide, which had been sold between December 2005 and November 2006.
With projected sales of 90 million handsets in the country this year, India is the second largest market for Nokia.
The Indian Cellular Association (ICA), a trade body that represents handset manufacturers, put the blame for such explosive incidents on the use of counterfeit parts such as batteries and chargers.
“We expect that nearly 4.5 crore batteries will be sold as replacement units this year,” said Pankaj Mohindroo, ICA’s president. “But when batteries are being imported at Rs10 per unit, while the real batteries cost around Rs200, most of the market is being catered to by the counterfeit manufacturers,” he said.