BMW to recall 1.6 million cars worldwide due to potential airbag problem

A picture taken on March 13, 2012, shows the logo of BMW on a car exhibited during the company's annual results press conference in Munich, southern Germany. The German top-of-the-range car maker said on July 16, 2014 it will recall around 1.6 millio
A picture taken on March 13, 2012, shows the logo of BMW on a car exhibited during the company's annual results press conference in Munich, southern Germany. The German top-of-the-range car maker said on July 16, 2014 it will recall around 1.6 million cars worldwide due to a potential airbag problem. PHOTO: AFP

FRANKFURT (AFP) - German top-of-the-range car maker BMW said in Wednesday it will recall around 1.6 million cars worldwide due to a potential airbag problem.

The recall affected the BMW 3 series model built between May 1999 and August 2006, BMW said in a statement, adding that it was a "precautionary voluntary measure to minimise the risk of the passenger airbag not opening properly".

The 1.6 million cars affected include 240,000 cars being recalled due to problems with an airbag made by a third-party supplier.

These cars would not need an additional change of airbag, BMW said.

BMW also said on Wednesday it will increase the number of models it builds in China from three to six in the coming years to meet growing demand.BMW currently produces three models in China, the BMW 5 Series sedan, the BMW 3 Series sedan and the BMW X1.

However, “we are strengthening our focus on meeting the needs and aspirations of our Chinese customers”, said board member Friedrich Eichiner. “This is why we are going to produce even more models specially tailored to the Chinese market. We are going to double our range of locally produced models in the future – from three to six,” Mr Eichiner said.

The new models will include “a completely new entry model below the 3 Series” and a variant of the BMW X3 specifically developed for and produced in China.

Over the last five years, BMW has invested more than 2 billion euros (S$3.38 billion) in its Chinese plants, “and we will continue to invest in China”, Mr Eichiner said. It has two production sites in Dadong and Tiexi and “over the next two years, we are going to step up the capacity of the two plants from 300.000 units to a combined total of 400,000 units per year,” he said.

BMW also plans to extend its joint venture with Chinese automaker Brilliance China Automotive until 2028. According to a forecast by management consultant McKinsey, the Chinese market for private cars should grow by an annual average 8 per cent until 2020 when overall sales would reach 22 million vehicles.