STUTTGART, Germany German automaker Daimler (DAIGn.DE) is recalling 3,500 Mercedes-Benz Citan vans in Europe because of faulty airbags.
A company spokesman said on Monday that window airbags will be replaced in the box-type Citan, which recently scored only three out of five stars in an NCAP crash test survey.
The low score from the New Car Assessment Programme body, which conducts crash tests on behalf of its European government and consumer motoring organization members, was a blow for Mercedes, which is struggling to catch up with German luxury-car rivals BMW (BMWG.DE) and Volkswagen's (VOWG_p.DE) Audi and has put pressure on Chief Executive Dieter Zetsche to take action.
Mercedes also prides itself on the safety of its vehicles, which it promotes as "the best or nothing" in TV commercials.
"The (crash test) result is of course completely unsatisfactory," said Zetsche, who also heads the Mercedes-Benz luxury cars division, in an interview with German newspaper WAZ last week. "We will of course have to look into this," he added.
The Citan small delivery van is a derivative of the Kangoo from French manufacturer Renault (RENA.PA), which formed an alliance with Daimler in 2010 to cooperate on commercial vehicles, small cars and powertrains.
(Reporting by Hendrik Sackmann and Andreas Cremer; Editing by Greg Mahlich.)