BMW Recalls 220,000 Cars Globally for Faulty Passenger Air Bag

Bayerische Motoren Werke AG is recalling 220,000 vehicles globally for a front-passenger air-bag defect that caused Japanese carmakers to recall 3 million vehicles last month.

Affected vehicles are BMW 3-Series models produced from December 2001 to March 2003. Munich-based BMW expects that 180,000 of the vehicles are still in use, Bernhard Santer, a spokesman, said by phone.

BMW’s recall is caused by faulty air-bag inflators from Japanese supplier Takata Corp., the same problem that led to mass recalls at Toyota Motor Corp., Honda Motor Co. and Nissan Motor Co. in April. Klaus Draeger, BMW’s head of purchasing and supplier network, said at the time that Takata was a minor air-bag supplier for the company and that BMW was examining whether it was affected.

Daimler AG said in April that it wasn’t affected as the defective part wasn’t built into Mercedes-Benz vehicles.

A recall of more than 10 million Toyota cars and trucks in 2009 and 2010 over floor mats jamming accelerator pedals marred the image of Asia’s biggest automaker and shed light on the risks of using the same part on a whole range of vehicles to cut costs.

BMW isn’t aware of any incidents related to the defect, Santer said. He declined to comment on the financial effect of the recall. BMW is replacing the air bags free of charge for each customer in a service that takes about an hour, Santer said.

A phone call to Takata’s public relations office in Tokyo after regular business hours wasn’t answered.

The recalls in April led to Takata shares tumbling 9 percent on the day of the announcements by the three biggest Japanese car-makers. The Tokyo-based parts maker was also involved in a recall of almost 9 million vehicles to replace faulty seat belts in 1995, a record for the auto industry at the time.