Johannesburg - After weeks of silence, Ford was expected to give clarity on its defective Kuga SUV models that have caught alight in South Africa when the company holds a media briefing on Monday.
In the latest incident, as the problem escalates, a Kuga burst into flames on Saturday morning on the M1 highway.
It was the second incident in just three days, after another Kuga caught fire on Thursday. The two incidents, which have brought the number of Kugas that have caught alight to 46, have fuelled panic among owners, who fear for their safety.
Dino Metaxas was driving on the M1 heading to the Mall of Africa on Saturday morning when he noticed smoke coming out from the back of his car.
“I noticed some black smoke coming from the back of the vehicle while on the highway. Very quickly the temperature of the car shot up high and we pulled over,” he said, speaking to The Sunday Independent.
Metaxas, who was travelling with his mom, dad and daughter, feared the worse because of the various incidents that he has been reading about. He knew he had to act – quickly.
“I unlocked the car quickly to get us all out and ensure that we didn’t experience the same incident as the gentleman who died over a year ago.
“We managed to put out the fire, thank God, because if we hadn’t the car would have been burnt to rubble, or worse.”
Metaxas confirmed that there were actual flames seen coming from the car. Even though Ford came to collect the car for checkups, he does not want the car back.
“Whether it is a write off or not, I don’t want it back. I am open to chat with Ford but I will not allow the car back.”
Safety check not solving problem
More than four dozen Ford Kugas in South Africa have caught fire since last year. In December, Ford South Africa requested that all local Kuga owners take their vehicle in for a safety inspection.
However, even after some owners had taken their vehicle into a dealership and the dealership had checked it and assured the owners the vehicle was safe, the vehicles still went up in flames.
In one incident, an owner was assured by a dealership that his car would be fine as long as the coolant level in his Kuga was correct. However, his Kuga burnt out a few days later.
Despite these incidents, Ford South Africa has yet to issue a recall on the affected Kugas. On Thursday, a Kuga SUV belonging to Warren Krog caught alight.
In December 2015, Reshall Jimmy died when his Kuga burst into flames. Since the passing of her brother, his sister Renisha has launched a campaign to raise awareness, to gather the victims and bring Ford to recall all cars and save lives. So far, they have found about 45 cases.
Jimmy said they took about 30 of these cases to the Motor Industry Ombudsman.
According to Jimmy, the majority of those affected had agreed to bring a class-action lawsuit against Ford SA.
“I think Ford is really dragging their feet with this. All we ever wanted from them was for them to own up and recall all the cars that are still out there.
“Lives of people are in danger and we don’t want another incident like what happened to my brother to happen to any other person,” said Renisha.