Wed | Aug 23, 2017

Big bucks involved in local Honda airbag recall

Published:Friday | December 23, 2016 | 12:00 AMNeville Graham
In this Monday, November 7, 2016 photo, the exploded air bag that injured Rabiah binti Ibrahim hangs from the steering wheel in her Honda City in Slim River, Malaysia. Five Malaysians have died in accidents linked to faulty Takata air bags that are at the centre of one of the world's largest auto recalls.
Honda-CRV is among rhe motorvehicles involvedin a worldwide recall.
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Agents for Honda motor vehicles in Jamaica are shelling out big bucks for a recall, but ATL Automotive Limited, the authorised dealer in Kingston and Montego Bay, is not saying how much.

Since news broke that defective airbag inflators made by Takata were installed on several car brands worldwide, ATL Automotive has launched a campaign in Jamaica as part of the recall to fix the problem, at no cost to the owners.

Head of business at ATL Automotive Honda Division, Sam McKenzie, admitted that "a lot of money" is involved in undertaking the recall, but said that was the least of the considerations at the moment. Rather, he says, the company is going all out to make Honda drivers safe.

"Honda, which has the same issue for that span of years - 2001-2015 - has made a concerted decision that they want to ensure that all our drivers globally are safe once they still have these vehicles," McKenzie said, noting that the recall applies to Honda owners with certain models, regardless of how they purchased the vehicle. The affected models are the Honda Accord, Civic, CR-V, Odyssey, Fit, Stream, Pilot and City.

"We have been pushing very hard across the globe to ensure that every driver, even in a relatively small market like Jamaica, regardless of where the car comes from, get the benefits of the change," McKenzie said.

Working to resolve issue

Indications are that 6,000 of the Honda cars on Jamaica's roads are affected. McKenzie said so far, about 2,000 owners have been contacted over the last 45 days. A team of six dedicated call centre persons have been contacting owners on the Honda database to have them visit ATL Automtive's offices to have the problem rectified. About 30 per cent of that number have visited the dealer to have their airbag inflators fixed.

McKenzie said ATL Automotive is doing everything to ensure that the issue is resolved. "We have selected technicians whose dedicated duty it is to focus on airbag inflators. We do up to seven days per week. If a customer is not able to make it on a Saturday and they can come on a Sunday within a given timeframe, we will accommodate them," he said.

The company is utilising several channels to get in touch with Honda owners because, according to McKenzie, the effort will not stop until every affected owner is contacted.

"We have put (in) money, time and energy with the support of Honda, meaning we have radio ads, we have print (advertisements). There is also social media and outside broadcasts at different locations to ensure that we get this message across to Jamaica," he said.

McKenzie was not forthcoming when pressed about the amount of money involved in fixing the problem, suggesting that the cost is the least of the considerations at this time.

"It's a warranty issue and to be frank, it's a lot of money. We are not prepared to say how much, because what is critical is that once we start a relationship, once you are brought into the Honda family, then your safety, comfort and investment in the brand are paramount," McKenzie said.

He insisted that it is not just about getting a new car or dealing with a service issue, but more so about the "holistic experience that touches the ownership of your car for today and many years to come".

neville.graham@gleanerjm.com