Johannesburg - Ford South Africa is under fire again, from Ford Kuga owners who have discovered that not even a Ford dealership will offer a realistic trade-in on a 1.6-litre EcoBoost Kuga.
Some owners believe they could lose as much as R400 000 on their vehicles, according to Vicki Harris of Johannesburg, who has started an online petition, FORD SA Kuga Buy Back, calling on the company to offer the owners of the 4556 cars affected in South Africa a buy-back option at a realistic market-based price, “before your nightmarish handling of the Kuga fires began”.
And that seems to be the crux of the matter; Kuga owners are just as angry with Ford over its mismanagement of the situation as they are about the danger to themselves and their families.
Last week Ford, under pressure from the National Consumer Commission, announced a recall of the affected Kugas, but only after 51 reported fires since December 2015 and one fatality, when former Durban resident Reshall Jimmy was burnt to death in his Kuga in December 2015.
Kuga owner Bradley Shewitz of Cape Town attempted to invoke the Consumer Protection Act to get a refund on his five-month-old Kuga, only to be told that when he signed the purchase agreement he had waived his right to return the vehicle.
And when Natalie Barrass of Durban tried to sell her Kuga online, all she got was abuse, on the order of “Why are you selling us a tombstone?”.
“I was shocked at how harsh some people can be,” she said. “But I am stuck. I cannot get a good trade-in from Ford and the chances of selling it privately are slim.
“We took it back to the dealership where I bought the vehicle brand new, and they said there were fine hairline cracks in the water coolant bottle and the pipe was very brittle. That whole system had to be replaced with a system that’s fitted in the newer models.”
However, when Barrass asked the dealership if the replacement parts meant there would be no fire risk, she said they could not give her any guarantees, and offered an extremely low amount for a trade-in on another vehicle.
"I am shocked at what they offered. I do little mileage, and to try to sell privately is difficult. I feel owners are being placed in a terrible position for something that is not our fault, and Ford should take more responsibility in this matter."
Another Kuga owner said: “If I post my vehicle at R50 000, I won’t be surprised if no one buys it. The fear is in anyone who thinks of driving it.”
“We are not asking for the world,” says Harris, “but rather simply fair treatment from Ford.”