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BMW to recall 1.6 million cars on concerns over Takata air bags

By Ben Klayman

DETROIT (Reuters) - German automaker BMW said on Wednesday it is recalling about 1.6 million cars worldwide to replace passenger-side front air bags made by Takata Corp because the inflators could break apart during deployment and injure passengers.

The recall affects 3 Series vehicles produced between May 1999 and August 2006.

While BMW is still taking part in a regional recall requested by U.S. safety regulators, BMW spokesman Dave Buchko said it decided to recall all of the model year 2000 through 2006 cars potentially affected by the issue. The regional recall requested in June by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration covered both passenger- and driver-side front air bags.

The recall is an extension of last year's recall of 240,000 cars globally for the same issue. However, it overlaps with the regional recall. "As a precaution, we just feel now that the right thing to do is just to bring them all in and replace the passenger-side air bag," Buchko said. The air bags were supplied by Japan's Takata, which has seen more than 12 million vehicles recalled over the past five years for related issues.

Also affected by the regional recall were Honda Motor Co, Toyota Motor Corp, Nissan Motor Co, Mazda Motor Corp, Fuji Heavy Industries -owned Subaru, Mitsubishi Motors Corp, Ford Motor Co and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles' Chrysler brand.

Subaru's recall of almost 9,000 cars was national from the start, while Honda's regional recall hit more states than NHTSA requested. Honda said there was no change to its position and its investigation was ongoing.

Nissan said a decision for a broader recall has not been made yet and the number of cars affected in the designated regions was still being determined. Mitsubishi said there was no change in status as the issue was still being investigated.

Mazda said it would decide whether to expand the regional campaign after its engineers evaluated the air bag inflators already recalled. A Toyota spokeswoman said the company has not expanded the recall.

A Chrysler spokesman said the automaker is still investigating the issue, which potentially affects about 298,000 older vehicles in the four regions NHTSA designated.

Ford said its position has not changed and it is cooperating with safety officials. It previously said the regional recall affected 58,669 vehicles.

NHTSA said it was aware of BMW's decision to expand its recall, but that was different from the regional recalls.

BMW is not aware of any accidents or injuries related to the issue. The cars previously recalled are not part of this campaign.

In the latest recall, about 574,000 of the cars were sold in the United States, 450,000 in Germany and 189,000 in the United Kingdom. Last year, BMW recalled 42,000 cars in the United States for this issue.

In addition, BMW said it has also recalled 26 Mini cars and one BMW i3 from model year 2014 to replace Takata passenger-side air bags. These are not part of the larger recall.

(Additional reporting by Bernie Woodall in Detroit and Thomas Atkins in Frankfurt; editing by Maria Sheahan, Nick Zieminski and Matthew Lewis)

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