Ford told to 'take responsibility' for igniting scandal

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His sister, Renisha, manages a public Facebook group called “FORD Vehicles Burning,” which has nearly 130 000 members, many of whom post their own horror stories.

She encourages those with similar issues to contact her, urging Ford to “stop hiding” and to “take responsibility for the fires caused and lives lost”.

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A Pretoria man, Sabelo Cele, became the latest victim of Ford’s Kuga fire-igniting engine scandal last Sunday morning. Picture: FacebookSabelo Cele and his wife watched as their Kuga burnt out on Sunday. Picture: Facebook

But Ford SA says it has no plans to issue a recall and has not agreed to pay repair costs. The car maker has asked Kuga owners to bring their cars to dealers for a free safety inspection, and the company is probing the cause of the fires.

The investigation won’t be concluded until February, and those affected question why the company is waiting so long to decide on a recall.

Dr David Klatzow, a forensic investigator working with the Jimmy family, says he receives calls almost daily from affected drivers.

The calls come from owners of other Ford vehicles such as Fiestas, who claim they are catching alight.

Klatzow believes the company has been slow to to share information about the Jimmy family’s case. ”Ford seems to be hell-bent on not investigating it properly.”

On the Facebook group, a motorist from the Eastern Cape claimed his dealership put the price tag for fixing his Kuga at more than R85000. Other motorists have posted photos and stories of different models catching fire.

One user uploaded a copy of a letter dated December 22, which was sent to Kuga owners and signed by Pieter Verster, the director of service engineering operations.

“While our investigations into the incidents are not complete at this time, we have found that the fires may be a result of engine overheating,” it read.

Ford SA has provided minimal information to the media, but the company issued a statement this week saying that the overheating issues are confined to Kugas with the 1.6-litre EcoBoost engine.

Ford representatives declined to comment about the matter of customers shouldering the repair costs.

While customers continue to express their fears that their vehicles might catch fire spontaneously, neither Ford nor the National Consumer Commission (NCC) have committed to a recall.

”It seems to me that (Ford is) putting the dollar above their clients’ safety,” says Klatzow.

Ford is preparing two reports: one investigating the cause of the vehicles' overheating and the other investigating Jimmy’s death.

Ford has agreed to finish the report on overheating by the end of February. At this point, the NCC will bring in its own experts to review Ford’s findings.

“(Our experts) will interrogate and tear that report apart to get to the bottom of that,” says Trevor Hattingh, the NCC spokesman.

In a statement sent to the Saturday Star on Friday, Ford says: “We’ve agreed with the NCC that we will keep it and customers updated on our progress.”

The Consumer Protection Act gives the commission the authority to demand a recall, and the commission will determine if this is necessary after Ford’s reports are published.

Elsewhere, Ford announced on Wednesday that it would recall more than 8000 Super Duty vehicles in the US and Canada to check for a potentially missing reinforcement bracket.

If it’s missing, Ford has agreed to cover the repair costs. On the same day, Ford announced that about 1300 vehicles in the US and Canada with superchargers were recalled for leaking oil supply tubes.

Ford will pay any charges associated with the repair.

According to the firm’s press release, the recall was initiated despite the company not being “aware of any fires, accidents or injuries associated with this issue”.

Saturday Star

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