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Honda is using Facebook to find owners affected by Takata airbag recall

Honda is using Facebook to find owners affected by Takata airbag recall


Custom Audiences feature being used to track down millions of owners with recalled cars

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Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

Several years after US government officials got involved in the massive Takata airbag recall that encompassed tens of millions of cars, many still haven’t been repaired. One of the automakers implicated in the recall scandal is turning to Facebook to track down owners.

On Monday, Honda announced a new set of initiatives to complete the replacement of defective Takata inflators, which have caused hundreds of injuries and deaths. Millions of Hondas sold in the US still haven’t been repaired, so the automaker is using Facebook Custom Audiences to find owners.

“To reach specific owners of affected vehicles, encrypted email addresses associated with recalled VINs are matched to Facebook UserIDs,” Honda said in a news release. “When a customer logs into Facebook, they are presented with a custom message featuring the PSA in their Facebook feed.”

The automaker’s US arm also released a video Monday urging owners to get their vehicles checked out and repaired if necessary. Honda enlisted Stephanie Erdman, who testified November 20th, 2014 before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation about how the inflator on her 2002 Honda Civic ruptured and sent metal shrapnel into her eye. The video is set for local broadcast TV airings, the company said.

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration requires automakers of vehicles subject to recall to notify owners by mail, using information obtained by state vehicle registration records. Recalls can also be verified on NHTSA’s website using the vehicle’s identification number. But in many cases, these letters go unnoticed or are sent to outdated addresses and vehicles go without repair. And since some of the affected vehicles are at least 10 years old, they could have been sold two or more times by now.

Honda, one of the automakers most affected by the Takata inflator scandal, estimates it’s replaced 71 percent of the recalled inflators in the US, Chris Martin from American Honda told The Verge Monday. But roughly 4.7 million inflators in US Honda vehicles have not yet been replaced. Despite the 2.2 million mailers sent out in July, Honda is making another push to reach owners.

About 4.7 million recalled Takata inflators in Hondas still need to be replaced

The Takata inflators involved in a series of recalls have been reported to send metal fragments out of the airbag, sometimes without the vehicle being involved in a crash, and injuring or killing people in vehicles made and sold around the world. Honda began recalling vehicles globally in 2013 following more than 100 injuries and eight deaths, later admitting it and Takata knew about the defects for many years.

Previously a leading airbag supplier to automakers that also included BMW, General Motors, Volkswagen and even Tesla, Takata was slammed in January with $1 billion in fines and restitution by US regulators over the scandal. It filed for bankruptcy in June.