Comment: Burning questions that Ford has a duty to answer

16 January 2017 - 09:15 By Times Editorial
GONE TO BLAZES: Warren Krog's 2013 Ford Kuga that burnt out in Alberton last Thursday.
GONE TO BLAZES: Warren Krog's 2013 Ford Kuga that burnt out in Alberton last Thursday.

As Ford SA and the National Consumer Commission prepare today for a "major announcement" we can only hope that it will be about a complete recall of the Ford Kuga, at least 47 of which have burst into flames.

But, while such an announcement would be a relief to the thousands of owners of this model, Ford still has plenty to answer for.

The Times has led the way in exposing the problems with Ford Kugas. Our reports led to the first formal warning by the motor manufacturer to its customers shortly before Christmas and to interventions by the consumer commission.

But, as our report today reveals, there is much more to be said.

  • Revealed: The Kuga warnings Ford ignoredFord was warned for at least a year that its Kuga SUV had potentially deadly problems - but appears not to have acted on the alarm bells. 

There is compelling evidence that suggests that Ford knew at least a year ago that there were potentially serious problems with the car after being alerted by an investigator who probed two Kuga fires last January. Yet there is no evidence Ford acted to warn its customers or to intervene.

But the rot goes deeper still as warning signals from elsewhere appear also to have been ignored by Ford.

The insurer Santam, for example, confirms that it had told Ford of five Kuga claims between 2014 and last year. Other insurers have a similar story to tell.

This indicates that Ford SA has serious questions to answer. Did the company continue to sell and allow its customers to drive Kugas when it had been warned of a potentially life-threatening issue by an investigator and insurers, and why did it wait almost a year to act?

Considering that a similar model was the subject of a massive recall in the US, the first suggestion of a problem here should have triggered alarms.

Ford's handling of this affair is shameful at best and grossly negligent at worst.

Its brand will be damaged for years as a result.

And then there's the question of Reshall Jimmy, who died when his Kuga caught fire in December 2015.

What will Ford say to his family now?