Honda calculates empty seats on school run

has issued a topical press release: Over five million empty car seats on the school run that shows an interesting use of the dreaded extrapolation – with research claiming:

Nearly half of all parents who drive their children to school, take only one child in their car. As a result there are over five million empty seats on Britain’s school run every day.

This leads to a conclusion that by taking just one additional child, then over 500,000 cars would be removed from UK roads at peak times.  Apparently the majority of parents were willing to share lifts and 60 per cent even knew another child living close to them and travelling to the same school.

Nice story – although it is a shame the research didn’t investigate why the parents were not already car-sharing.  That might have led into a campaign rather than simply a marketing-oriented release for the Honda FR-V.

However, it is good to see quotes in the release from respected third parties rather than citing a Honda marketing manager.  Firstly, Edmund King, Executive Director of the , who provides the main link to Honda in the message that:

“By car sharing in a modern people carrier, such as the Honda FR-V, the young occupants will be offered a greener, cleaner, quicker and safer ride.”

(The release also claims: “If these same parents drove a people carrier, like the six-seat Honda FR-V, a staggering 942,596 cars would vanish from the roads during the school run.”  Of course, it is unlikely that parents who aren’t offering one child a life would fill up a people carrier with the little darlings).

The second quote is from Ali Clabburn, MD of – who could perhaps have illuminated the reasons for reluctance to share a lift, but didn’t.

Some interesting notes to editors – with regional statistics “available on request”.  Perhaps a link to these could have been incorporated into the electronic version of the release rather than expecting media to make a call to the press office.

I liked the fact that the notes link into the Department for Transport National travel survey: 2006 (which provides a host of information about the changing habits of the British population and was issued last week) – but again, no hyperlink was included.

Substantiating the source of data is vital, and Honda did this very clearly.  Using hyperlinks is a very easy way to go further and connect direct to the sources or provide additional information for media.

Also, as the relevance of the Honda FR-V is a little tenuous, it is important to ensure that the company is more clearly linked into the story.  For example, I would have been inclined to provide some graphics that would be credited to Honda illustrating the data – rather than a vehicle photo.

It would also be good to see the story on the home page of the Honda UK website – but I’m not convinced Honda is likely to develop this story into a campaign – unlike Kia which has have supported schemes for a number of years.

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Heather Yaxley PhD

Dr. Heather Yaxley is passionate about sustainable careers, reflective practice and professional development. I am a rhizomatic educator, practitioner, consultant, academic and scholar. As a qualified academic, I teach the CIPR professional qualifications with PR Academy and have experience teaching at various Universities. I run the Motor Industry Public Affairs Association (MIPAA) and my own strategic consultancy. I was awarded by PhD researching Career Strategies in Public Relations by Bournemouth University in 2017. I'm a published author, with books, chapters and academic papers to my name.

One thought on “Honda calculates empty seats on school run”

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