A BMW Ireland spokesman has said a problem that has led to a recall of thousands of cars in Ireland relates to a potentially faulty passenger airbag.

The company has not yet established how many cars will be affected by the recall.

The spokesman described the recall as a "voluntary and precautionary" exercise and said no incidents had been reported with BMW cars.

The company is now in the process of contacting all owners of the 3 Series models affected and is offering to replace the passenger airbag free of charge.

The Japanese company that supplied the airbags has been responsible for the recall of 12 million cars worldwide, including cars manufactured by Ford, Toyota, Nissan, Mitsubishi, Mazda and Fiat.