Car airbag recall concerns up to 1.4m French vehicles, says watchdog

Manufacturer, however, says the figure is exaggerated. The potentially dangerous defect is in Citroen, Opel and DS brand cars

Split image of Stellantis headquarters, a citroen DS3 and DS4
Citroen DS3 vehicles made between 2009 and 2019, are affected but Stellantis denies it concerns DS4s
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Up to 1.4m vehicles in France might have to be recalled due to a potentially dangerous airbag defect in Citroen, Opel and DS brand cars, France's official car manufacturing watchdog has told Le Parisien newspaper.

However, the brands’ parent company Stellantis denies that the recall is so extensive.

The potentially dangerous defect identified in Takata brand airbags, which are used in various types of car, is caused by the deterioration of the airbag’s gas in hot climates over several years.

This led to a major recall of 181,764 Citroën C3 vehicles, and 65,049 DS3 vehicles in the south of France in May 2024.

All of the vehicles were made between 2009 and 2019 and delivered to the south of Clermont-Ferrand and the city of Lyon (Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes).

Read more: 240,000 Citroën cars recalled in France over airbag fault 

However, according to the report in Le Parisien, the problem is far more extensive than was publicly acknowledged and a much wider recall will be required.

In an interview, Catherine Bieth, the director of the France's car manufacturing watchdog, Le service de surveillance du marché des véhicules et des moteurs (SSMVM) said that more models could be affected, including the C4, DS4 and DS5 models of Citroen. 

This would bring the potential size of the recall to 8.2 million cars worldwide, including 1.4 million in France. 

“This number has been known to Stellantis and to our services for several months,” said Ms Bieth.

Stellantis, which is the parent company of several brands including Peugeot, Citroën, Opel and Chrysler, has refused to confirm these reports, telling Le Figaro on June 7 that the recall was indeed limited to the DS3 and C3 models built between 2009 and 2019 - a total of 530,000 vehicles worldwide.

“No risks have been identified for models with other components,” a spokesperson said. "There is no further upcoming recall action planned at the moment.

“The risks associated with Takata airbags are being continuously monitored and managed by routine checks.”

The airbags, which are also present in various models of Fords, Toyotas and Nissans, have allegedly been involved in several fatal accidents since 2020, including the death of a 44 year-old woman in Guadeloupe whose airbag inflated for no reason in May 2023.

Le Figaro reports that her autopsy gives her cause of death as being due to “a metal part of the airbag hitting her head”.