June 21, 2016 / 3:07 PM / 3 years ago

Honda says domestic brand image hit by Fit recalls

Workers conduct quality checks on Honda Fit vehicles at the Honda Motor Co. plant in Yorii, Saitama prefecture, Japan, March 8, 2016. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

TOKYO (Reuters) - Honda Motor Co. (7267.T) said on Wednesday that its brand image in Japan had been tarnished by a series of recalls over quality issues related to its Fit model and this was weighing on domestic sales.

Since late 2013, Honda has conducted numerous recalls of its Fit cars, a sub compact model with ample cargo space which was once the automaker’s best-selling domestic model, mainly to fix issues related to the vehicle’s programming and its engine.

“We had a period of ongoing recalls of the Fit in the past two years or so which had a negative impact on the brand’s image,” Honda’s chief operating officer for Japan operations Kimiyoshi Teratani said.

He said domestic sales of the model, which is available in other markets around the world, had slumped since the recall, while the ongoing withdrawal of millions of vehicles over potentially faulty air bags made by Takata Corp 7312.T had “dealt another blow” to the company.

Overall, Honda’s annual domestic vehicle sales fell 12.2 percent to 668,000 in the year ended March and the automaker expects sales for the current year to drop nearly 3 percent.

Domestic sales comprised about 14 percent of the automaker’s global sales last year.

Reporting by Maki Shiraki; editing by David Clarke

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