Honda to begin ad campaign telling car owners about recalls

The largest recall the car manufacturer expects to handle will be for the faulty airbags produced by Takata Corporation.

Yuya Shino/REUTERS/File
A woman using her mobile phone walks past a Honda Motor Co. logo outside the company's dealership in Tokyo, in this October 28, 2014 file photo.

Honda Motor Co Ltd's US arm said it launched an advertising campaign urging owners of Honda and Acura vehicles to immediately check for open recalls and take the affected automobiles to authorized dealers for free repair.

The company has set aside hundreds of millions of dollars to cover mass recalls to replace air-bag inflators made by Takata Corp that have been linked to six deaths, all in Honda cars.

"These ads are a strong call to action from our company designed to break through the clutter, grab the attention of customers driving affected vehicles, and urge that they get required repairs as soon as possible," said John Mendel, who leads American Honda Motor's automobile unit.

The consumer information campaign includes a multi-million dollar advertising push that will begin on March 16, Honda said.

The airbags have inflators that can explode, expelling shards of metal and plastic. Dozens of injuries have been linked to the problem worldwide.

Takata airbags are used by many automakers but Honda was the worst affected.

The airbag controversy has already led to the resignation of Honda's CEO Takanobu Ito. He will be replaced by Takahiro Hachigo.

US and Japanese authorities have been investigating the Takata air bags. The US fined Honda $70 million, which was the largest civil penalty levied against an automaker, for not reporting to US regulators some 1,729 complaints that its vehicles caused deaths and injuries, and for not reporting warranty claims.

Takata refused the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's demand to issue a nationwide recall of driver's side air bag inflators, though automakers have recalled the cars on their own.

The recalls have clouded the reputation of Honda and other Japanese automakers for quality and safety. They also raised costs for Honda, especially in North America, prompting the company to trim its annual earnings forecast after profit in the October-December quarter slipped 15 percent.

The maker of the Fit subcompact, Odyssey minivan and Asimo robot now expects a profit for the fiscal year through March of 545 billion yen ($4.6 billion), down 5 percent from a year earlier.

But it said it expects to sell 4.45 million vehicles in the fiscal year that runs through March, slightly above its sales of 4.3 million vehicles in the previous fiscal year.

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