Pretoria – While the National Consumer Commission says Ford SA has offered to carry out free safety inspections on all Kuga SUVs sold in South Africa, another report of a Kuga catching fire has been shared on social media.
Sabelo Cele posted on Facebook this week that his Kuga caught alight while driving in Westville North on Sunday morning.
“I was driving to Lanseria Airport on the N1 south to drop off my wife and 18-month-old son for a 7.55am flight to Durban, he wrote. “I checked my rear view mirror and saw smoke coming from the back of the car.”
He told his wife about the smoke and decided to pull over.
“The smoke started coming out from the engine as soon as I stopped in the yellow line. My wife and I both jumped out of the car and she unbuckled our son from his car seat.”
At about that point, he recalled, flames started engulfing the bonnet while he retrieved their belongings from the car.
“I managed to get some items out,” he wrote, but the boot would not open.
“My wife’s luggage and my son's items, including his pram, were in there. I ran off to join my wife and son who were already far from the car and looked on to watch our Kuga go up in flames.”
He said the drama had left his wife in shock.
“What could have been if the doors didn’t open?” he asked.
Now a Facebook page - Ford Vehicles Burning – has been set up, dedicated to tracking down victims of the reported technical fault to force Ford SA to recall the Kuga.
The page was started by former KwaZulu-Natal residents Renisha and Kaveen Jimmy, whose brother Reshall was killed in December 2015 when his Kuga burst into flames near George in the Southern Cape.
The Jimmy family is demanding answers on the cause of the vehicle fire that claimed his life.
Kaveen Jimmy said: “I am quite relieved that they are doing something.”
He said they were in the process of vetting those who want to join their proposed class-action lawsuit against the manufacturer, and that 38 people had come forward with the same problem.
The National Consumer Commission said it had not to date received any complaints from consumers about Ford Kuga SUVs. The inspection offer resulted from its meeting with Ford last week, it said, and formed part of precautionary measures after allegations of engines catching fire had surfaced.
Ford had promised to expedite its investigation into “engine overheating incidents”, it added, and would report back with its findings by the end of February.
The commission has also asked the Motor Industry Ombudsman and the National Regulator for Compulsory Specifications to assist with the matter.
“The regulatory group will independently review all concluded investigations and related reports from Ford to determine the best possible way to proceed with the matter,” it said.
Ford's investigation not yet complete
Ford SA spokeswoman Alisea Chetty said the manufacturer had not been made aware of any legal action to be taken against it.
“Our investigation in South Africa is not complete at this time,” she said. “We take the safety of our customers very seriously and are committed to addressing potential issues.”
“While we continuously evaluate our processes for potential improvements, our decisions are driven by the data available. When the data indicates a safety recall is needed, we move quickly on behalf of our customers,” she added.
She asked Kuga owners to take their vehicle to a dealership for an inspection.
Ford Kuga owners can call 0860 011 022 for advice or assistance.