Not just recalled Kugas: Now other Ford models ablaze

19 January 2017 - 08:38 By Graeme Hosken

Owner of Ford cars not included in the recall of Kuga SUVs announced this week have said they intend joining the application for class-action litigation against the manufacturer, alleging that their cars have also caught fire.

The claims - in a dossier handed to the National Consumer Commission - challenge Ford's insistence that only its 1.6l EcoBoost Kugas built between 2012 and 2014 have a fault that could result in the car bursting into flames. The company says it will fix the fault in the 4556 cars it has recalled.

But the claims filed - seen by The Times - also cite the 2.5l Kuga and the newly manufactured 1.5l EcoBoost Kuga.

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Social media groups are claiming that models other than Kugas are catching fire.

Yesterday, a Ford Figo caught fire outside a private hospital in Nelspruit.

 

Ford says the problem with the recalled Kugas relates to faults in the coolant system, worsened by South Africa's relatively hot climate.

But fire-investigation reports seen by The Times that form part of the class-action suit being prepared against Ford say the fires were caused by electrical faults.

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In one instance, an incorrectly installed spotlight bulb started the fire, an investigation report says.

The class action is being led by the family of Reshall Jimmy, who was burnt to death in December 2015 when his 2014 1.6l EcoBoost Kuga caught alight while he was on holiday in the Wilderness, Western Cape. More than 40 Ford owners have said they will join the class action.

Ford spokesman Rella Bernardes was asked if Ford was sure that only the 1.6lEcoBoost Kuga was affected. She said: "No other models or engine derivatives are affected."

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Johannesburg Kuga owner Sean Thompson claimed that since his 2.5l Titanium Kuga caught fire in September 2015, Ford had done everything in its power to deny responsibility.

"Like Jimmy's fire, mine was also caused by an electrical fault."

Police and insurance investigators found that the fire that killed Jimmy was caused by an electrical fault behind the dashboard on the passenger side. Ford maintains the fire started at the rear of the car.

Thompson believes that if Ford had listened to him when he complained about his car, Jimmy would be alive.

His car caught fire while it was parked in his garage, with the ignition switched off, and he was in his house,

"Ford says it's only the 1.6l EcoBoost that is affected and that the problem is a coolant one, but that's rubbish. My fire was caused by an electrical fault linked to the seat's heating system."

  • BREAKING: Another Ford Kuga is ablaze in JohannesburgThe company maintains that the Kuga fires were caused by a coolant system fault exacerbated by South Africa's hot climate.

Malehotlo Makgamatha said her new 1.5l EcoBoost caught fire last year. The fire-investigation report shows that the fire was caused by the incorrect installation of a spotlight bulb, which caused the spotlight housing to melt and ignite.

"For a year Ford has refused to help me," said Makgamatha. "I pleaded with them for help after the recall was announced. Today they agreed but were reluctant because it's not the 1.6l EcoBoost.

"I drive with bricks in my car just in case it catches fire so I can get my children and myself out."

Daniel Joubert, of Nelspruit, said his 2013 2.5l Kuga caught fire early in 2015. In a statement to the National Consumer Commission, he said his car caught alight three days after collecting it from a Ford dealership where he had taken it to have problems sorted out.

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"It burnt out within 10 minutes. I contacted Ford and was told that they do not feel it needed to be investigated ... as my insurance paid out, I should be happy."

Reshall Jimmy's sister, Renisha, said their Facebook group had been inundated with complaints from Ford Figo and Ford Focus owners whose cars had caught fire.

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