Massive recall of Citroën C3: what we know about these dangerous airbags causing fatal accidents

Massive recall of Citroën C3: what we know about these dangerous airbags causing fatal accidents
Massive recall of Citroën C3: what we know about these dangerous airbags causing fatal accidents

By

Briac Trébert

Published on

May 15, 2024 at 6:11 p.m.

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Please “stop immediately” driving your vehicle. Many C3 and DS3 owners have just received a letter from Citroën ordering them to take their car to the garage.

The French car manufacturer cites an “airbag problem that could cause serious injuries or even death”. In question: products from the Japanese brand Takata and a problem, not really new, ofdefective airbags…but still in circulation.

A Japanese equipment manufacturer that has since gone bankrupt

For years, these airbags, which can explode in drivers’ faces, have been the subject of recalls worldwide.

Originally, a defect noted on the airbags of the Japanese equipment manufacturer Takata (which has since gone bankrupt), capable of exploding by projecting metal fragments, which had been brought to light by the American authorities in… 2014, already causing major recall campaigns across the world from several manufacturers.

Because these airbags would be involved in several accidents, sometimes fatal, particularly in the Antilles and Island, details Television overseas. The climate of these overseas territories would considerably increase the risk of explosion, explains the channel, citing a question from the Member of Parliament for Reunion, Karine Lebon, who questioned Clément , then Minister of Transport, on this subject in April 2023. .

She then insisted on the delay taken by dealers in launching recall campaigns.

In France, many people still drive vehicles equipped with these airbags and are therefore put in danger on a daily basis. It also turns out that, even the problem was publicized in 2014, automobile manufacturers continued to market vehicles equipped with these airbags until 2017.

MP Karine Lebon in a question to the government in April 2023

Suzuki, Mercedes Benz, Volkswagen, Toyota, BMW, Ford, Mazda…

Because this scandal dates back more than ten years, and yet, these defective airbags from the equipment manufacturer Takata still cause deaths and injuries, insisted the MP, mentioning several accidents in Guadeloupe or even in Reunion.

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In May 2023, the government responded to the MP that vehicles equipped with defective Takata brand airbags had indeed been the subject of numerous recall campaigns by Citroën, but also Suzuki, Mercedes Benz, Volkswagen, Toyota, BMW, Ford, Mazda, Nissan , Land Rover and even Honda.

And already highlighted these Citroën C3s explaining that the manufacturer Stellantis (a group resulting from the merger of the Groupe PSA and Fiat Chrysler groups) had launched in September 2020 a recall of vehicles whose Takata airbags had been identified as defective.

This recall operation concerned Citroën C3, C4, DS3, DS4 and DS5 vehicles. On these vehicles, the recall consisted of replacing the driver’s airbag on C3, DS3, C4, DS4, DS5 and the passenger airbag module on C3 and DS3 only.

Stellantis then prioritized vehicles circulating in geographical areas “where conditions favor the appearance of the problem, in particular for France: Guyana, Guadeloupe, , Réunion, Mayotte, New Caledonia”, detailed the government, specifying that this reminder proved very laborious.

In May 2023, Clément Beaune nevertheless asked his services “to relaunch all the manufacturers concerned by inviting them to conduct a new information campaign, by mail, telephone and sending electronic messages”.

The vehicles affected by the recall are vehicles registered several years ago, which may have changed owners several times, sometimes countries, or are no longer in circulation. The manufacturer therefore sometimes has difficulty contacting owners. And vehicle owners who were contacted did not bring the vehicles to the dealership to have the operation carried out…

The government, in May 2023

A dose of ammonium nitrate in the swelling process

As early as 2014, the American authorities revealed that certain airbags produced by the Japanese Takata did not offer all the safety guarantees. After the recall of several million vehicles worldwide, the Japanese equipment manufacturer paid a fine of one billion dollars to the States… before filing for bankruptcy.

In 2017, before a Michigan court, the Japanese equipment manufacturer admitted having, between 2000 and 2015, concealed the existence of a major defect in the inflating agents of its airbags, which were likely to explode unexpectedly by projecting fragments onto the driver or passenger.

According to experts, the possibly violent rupture of certain airbags from the equipment manufacturer is linked in particular to the use, in the inflation process, of a dose of ammonium nitrate. According to studies carried out after various accidents, the capsules, housing the inflation system, would not be sufficiently able to isolate the ammonium nitrate from external humidity, particularly when vehicles are subjected to significant changes. of temperature.

By exploding violently after a minimal impact, or even for no apparent reason, airbags are doubly dangerous: not only do they cause the driver to lose control of the vehicle, but the impact is such that it can propel metal parts into the passenger compartment.

The bankruptcy of the Japanese automobile supplier Takata, which left behind billions of euros in debt, marked the most resounding bankruptcy of an industrialist in the history of post-war Japan.

Judicial information opened in France

In the 1970s, Takata offered car seats for children, then in 1987 the group positioned itself on airbags which it initially produced for Honda Motor before selling them to other manufacturers.

Honda, the equipment manufacturer’s first customer, launched an airbag recall in 2008, but it was not until 2014 that the affair came to light when the American Highway Safety Agency (NHTSA) was seized of the file after a series of incidents.

Ten years later, judicial investigations are now open in Guadeloupe in particular for “involuntary homicides” and “involuntary injuries with ITT less than and more than three months depending on the case, committed by inattention, negligence or breach of a safety obligation by a person or by legal entity”.

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