A recall of 200,000 BMW vehicles to replace a front seat-mounted airbag sensor is limited to units sold only in the US and Canada, a spokesman told just-auto on Friday.

"BMW announced a voluntary recall regarding the front passenger airbag seat sensor mat involving approximately 200,000 model year 2004-06 vehicles," Reuters reported yesterday, citing a statement posted on the German automaker's US website on Wednesday.

A possible defect in the sensor could keep the front passenger airbag from opening in a crash, BMW said in the statement.

Models affected included certain 2006 3-series, 2004-06 5-series and 2004-06 X3 vehicles.

Munich-based BMW spokesman Daniel Schmidt said: "It's a sensor mat in the passenger's front seat. They can be broken in usage. It's a supplier part and may be affected and therefore we are recalling 200,000 cars."

He added that, in reality, the number left to fix was 150,000 as 50,000 had already been modified or repaired.

BMW's US website statement said that the sensor mat "may become damaged during vehicle usage depending upon the manner and frequency of the front passenger's entry and exit".

It said it would start sending customer letters in late September and that affected owners could continue to drive their vehicles unless the airbag warning lamp and the passenger airbag 'on-off' lamp illuminated simultaneously.

In that case, it recommends customers not use the front passenger seat and have the vehicle serviced immediately.

"At the present time, we are unaware of any accidents or injuries as a result of this issue," the statement added.