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The Ford/Firestone Commentary

Ford's announcement by CEO Jac Nasser calling for the replacement of 13.5 million Firestone tires on its SUVs has re-ignited debate about responsiblity for the alleged safety problem, a nightmare likely to drag on for years.
Following the news of the Ford recall, which will cost the automaker $3 billion, Firestone counterattacked almost immediately, calling for a federal investigation of the Explorer.

It was a PR guy's worst nightmare and a trial lawyer's dream: the targets of an investigation turning on each other in front of the cameras. It wasn't long before the opportunists came roaring out of the woodwork. The Florida State Attorney General took the dramatic step of declaring SUVs unsafe and launching a full investigation. An over reaction that probably had as much to do with the Florida State Attorney General's deep concern for the well-being of the Florida State Attorney General's Office, as it had to do with his desire to protect Florida consumers.

It appears that this imbroglio isn't going away anytime soon. Unfortunately, no one will come out a winner. Certainly not the consumer, and certainly not Ford or Firestone whose brand reputations have been severely tarnished, nor the safety advocates who are looking more unreasonable every day.

As Ford CEO Jacques Nasser prepares to answer questions regarding the safety of Explorer before a Congressional committee [again] on June 19th, the company has also responded strongly to an impending NHTSA investigation.

ER will continue to watch this. In the meantime, we are presenting analysis of 2002 Explorer as well as a very significant White Paper by DRIVE-TEK, the Dana/GKN Automotive joint venture. This PDFx document discusses the utilization of driveline torque management as a stability enhancement tool in HCOG (high center of gravity) vehicles; i.e., SUVs.

We're also presenting a fact sheet from Ford Motor Company that addresses misconceptions surrounding this controversy. Obviously, ER does not necessarily endorse the information presented in the report, but we certainly felt it was appropriate to provide more background in the interests of fairness.

The saga continues.

Myron D. Stokes


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