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Ford SA boss apologises in Parliament

Politics
Parliament – Parliament on Tuesday received an update on Ford Motor Company Southern Africa's progress on the recall of their Ford Kuga vehicles at the centre of an outbreak of engine compartment fires.

According to Ford, of 4 556 affected Kuga 1.6 models, to date, 3 200 Kugas had been checked and 2 700 serviced and returned to their owners.

A progress report presented by the National Consumer Commission (NCC) on the Ford Kuga 1.6 Ecoboost recall showed that the first update report was received by the NCC on 1 February 2017.

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This photo taken on January 12 captures Warren Krog's 2013 Ford Kuga ablaze in Alberton.

The report outlined that: "The models that were affected were the Ford Kugas manufactured in Valencia (Spain) in 2012 to 2013," and that "the total number of units that were affected was 4 556."

Ford said it was using all social media platforms to contact affected consumers to ensure that all vehicles were attended to.

The second presentation received by the NCC from Ford was on March 2, wherein a cumulative figure on their progress was given.

According to the document, of the 4 556 affected units, 2 744 had already been refitted, while others were being lined up for the recall procedure. At the time, about 600 vehicles were still to be traced.

"Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa has assured the NCC that they are communicating with all dealerships, even those outside our borders (and they are also part of the process)," the document by the NCC said.

The NCC dedicated an e-mail to filter complaints related to the Ford Kuga recall and a protocol was established to escalate the complaints for immediate intervention.

The NCC told the Portfolio Committee on Trade and Industry that it first became aware of the situation involving the Ford Kuga 1.6 Ecoboost when reported by various media and on 8 December last year called for urgent meeting with Ford.

The meeting, confirmed for 12 December, was postponed to 14 December to allow Ford executives and technical experts to travel from Europe and the United States to appear before the NCC, the National Regulator for Compulsory Specification [NRCS], and the Motor Industry Ombudsman [MIO].

A document by the NCC stated that: "The purpose of the meeting was to get factual information and develop a roadmap on addressing the plight of affected consumers."

However, the NCC was moved to issue a statement on 13 January 2017, saying: "The developments during the festive season, to issue an instruction to Ford Motor Company Southern Africa to recall the affected Ford Kuga models, and to provide guidelines as to how the NCC would expect the process to unfold" came after the situation escalated when 47 incidents of Ford Kugas catching fire were reported by the media.

An agreement was then reached between the NCC and Ford to issue a joint statement announcing the recall of the affected vehicles.

"At about the same time (16 January), the NCC received several complaints relating to the same matter through an attorney indicating that he is representing those complainants," the document said.

An official notification of the recall was received by the NCC on 18 January 2017.

On Tuesday, CEO and president of Ford SA, Jeff Nemeth, apologised for losing the trust of consumers over the Ford Kuga debacle.

"I would like to apologise for giving our Ford customers a reason to question their trust in the Ford Motor Company," said Nemeth. "We uncharacteristically stumbled at various moments over these past months," said Nemeth. Nemeth said: "Part of the commitment to customer safety is our obligation to deliver an exceptional customer experience in those rare cases when a vehicle is involved in a recall."

Addressing Ford customers, Nemeth said: "While we cannot press rewind, we can assure you that we can, we must and will do better to re-earn your trust."

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