DECEMBER 28, 2000
Ford moves to avoid US legal embarrassment
THE Ford Motor Company has begun to settle law suits relating to accidents involving the Explorer sports utility vehicle. Last summer there were a string of accidents involving Explorers which suffered tire failure when running on Firestone tires. These happened mainly in US states where temperatures are high and were caused by the tires suffering blowouts at high speed. As a result of the crashes Bridgestone Firestone was forced to recall 6.5m tires and around 200 law suits were filed against Ford and Bridgestone Firestone.
Although Ford maintains that it was not to blame for the accidents it has decided to avoid fighting the lawsuits and creating adverse publicity and so is settling them out of court. The company has already settled eight cases in Florida, some of which had not even gone to court.
The decision to move swiftly and decisively is typical of Ford boss Jac Nasser who has shown once again that he will do what is necessary to ensure that the company is successful. This is very good news for Jaguar Racing as Nasser has closely associated himself with the Formula 1 program and cannot afford to fail. This will mean that the F1 team will get what it needs to do the job to beat McLaren and Ferrari. It will take some time, particularly as the team needs to have a completely new factory built at Silverstone, but in the long-term Nasser will be demanding success. The downside of all this is that if the team fails after being given all the necessary backing, the axe will be quick to fall. Nasser earned his nickname of Jac the Knife as he was rising through the Ford Motor Company and he will not be slow to react if he believes that the job is not being done properly.
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