Honda puts 2 hybrid cars on hold in Japan after third recall

TOKYO (REUTERS) - Honda Motor Co on Monday issued a third recall in Japan of two hybrid models that run on its new twin-clutch transmission, saying it would suspend shipments of the Japan-made models for two weeks until the problem is fixed.

Japan's third-biggest automaker estimated the recall would cost about 5.4 billion yen

(S$67 million), possibly affecting its earnings outlook for the January-March quarter, a spokesman said.

Subject to the recall are 81,353 Fit and Vezel hybrid cars with defective controls for its seven-speed dual clutch transmission system that could cause the car to take time to start or in some cases fail to start all together.

Honda will replace the controls programming and in some cases the transmission, apologising in a statement for effectively recalling the cars for the third time in roughly six months.

Shipment of the cars will be suspended for two weeks until Feb 20, affecting production of about 1,700 vehicles combined at two factories in Japan, the spokesman said.

The Fit hybrid is Honda's most popular model in Japan, excluding 660cc minivehicles.

Twin-clutch transmissions are still relatively rare in cars.

Honda is one of the few automakers in the world to develop and build its own transmissions.