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Honda mounts ad blitz to urge repair of Takata airbags

[WASHINGTON] Japanese automaker Honda said on Thursday it was launching a US advertising blitz to urge owners to bring in recalled vehicles for Takata airbag repairs.

Honda will spend millions of dollars on print, digital and radio advertising in a campaign that begins Monday and prioritizes regions at the greatest risk to affected owners, the company said in a statement.

"The goals of this campaign are to save lives and prevent injuries," said John Mendel, executive vice president of the Automobile Division of American Honda Motor Co, in a statement.

"Honda hopes that this new consumer information campaign will bolster our existing and continuing efforts to reach our customers and maximize the vehicle repair completion rates associated with recalls to replace Takata airbag inflators."

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Honda and other leading automakers have recalled about 20 million vehicles to fix the problem, linked to at least five fatalities. The airbags can deploy with excessive explosive power, spraying potentially fatal shrapnel into the vehicle.

But Honda noted on Thursday that an estimated one-third of all recalled vehicles in the US are never repaired, a problem more common with older model vehicles. Honda has recalled mostly older model Honda and Acura vehicles for the airbag fix.

Honda is booking full-page, color advertisements in more than 120 newspapers and radio spots in more than 110 markets, with both campaigns appearing in Spanish or English according to the targeted media outlet.

Customized Facebook posts mentioning the specific vehicle owned by each identified user will appear on owners' timelines.

"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 Mr Mendel.

Honda said the campaign will focus mainly on the 11 states and US territories that it believes pose the greatest risk because of their high absolute humidity levels that could contribute to an inflator rupture in some older-model Takata front airbags.

That marked an expansion of the four areas - Florida, Hawaii, the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico - that Honda had initially identified last year amid a wave of airbag recalls.

Among the states newly included are California, Texas and South Carolina.

Shares in Honda surged 2.6 per cent to US$34.23 in late-morning trade on the New York Stock Exchange.


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