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Scale of Stellantis safety scandal in France larger than previously thought

The Stellantis sign appears outside the Chrysler Technology Center, Jan. 19, 2021, in Auburn Hills, Michigan.
The Stellantis sign appears outside the Chrysler Technology Center, Jan. 19, 2021, in Auburn Hills, Michigan. Copyright Carlos Osorio/AP.
Copyright Carlos Osorio/AP.
By Euronews
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The multinational carmaker announced a recall for 530 000 DS 3 and C3 vehicles earlier this week. It’s now believed that 1.4 million cars are affected in France.

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A safety scandal involving the multinational carmaker Stellantis affects more vehicles than previously communicated, according to an interview featured in Le Parisien on Thursday.

Stellantis announced on Wednesday that 530,000 of its vehicles, manufactured between 2009 and 2019, were being recalled over risks linked to faulty airbags.

The airbags, created by Japanese automotive firm Takata, have been linked to a number of accidents - in some cases fatal.

The components are particularly prone to rupturing when moisture finds its way into the inflator, which can then propel sharp proponents towards individuals in the car.

While Stellantis had originally cited that more than half a million of its vehicles were affected by the safety recall, it now seems that 1.4 million cars are affected in France. This is out of 8 million Stellantis vehicles affected globally.

The update was given to Le Parisien by Catherine Bieth, head of France's motoring watchdog SSMVM, which is linked to the Ministry of Ecological Transition.

Stellantis had told owners of DS 3 and C3 vehicles to stop driving these cars.

Ms Bieth nonetheless added that C4, DS4, DS5 and Opel cars were also affected by the investigations. Owners of these vehicles have been told to stop driving, although it is claimed they have been informed of safety concerns by the manufacturer. 

Takata filed for bankruptcy in the US in 2017 as it flailed under billions of dollars of liability payments - linked to the airbag safety scandal.

Concerns first emerged in 2007, and Honda carried out its first recall of vehicles fitted with Takata's airbag inflators back in 2008.

In 2013, Toyota, Honda, Nissan and Mazda recalled more than 3 million vehicles worldwide, while the New York Times reported on an alleged Stellantis cover-up in 2014.

At the end of last month, Nissan also urged around 84,000 of their customers to stop using older vehicles because of the risk posed by Takata airbags. 

In November last year, a 51-year-old man in the Hautes-Pyrénées department in the south west of France died at the wheel of a C3 Citroen model.

His car was "equipped with a Takata airbag which is linked to the accident," said officials, who are launching a judicial investigation into the matter.

In their press release shared on Wednesday, Stellantis noted: "Risks associated with Takata airbags are continually monitored and managed through routine recalls."

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