Ford clients will now have to mull over a decision to take the cash or pursue further action against the car manufacturer. Owners whose vehicles caught alight have been offered a choice of three options to pursue, or they could just take the money and “ride’’.
The National Consumer Commission (NCC) confirmed that a settlement had been reached with Ford Motor Company Southern Africa (FMCSA) regarding compensation for the victims. The company agreed to pay a settlement fine of R35 million after admitting responsibility for the fires, blamed on a faulty cooling system, which resulted in the recall of 4556 Kuga 1.6 EcoBoosts in January 2017. Acting NCC commissioner Thezi Mabuza said the Detroit-based carmaker had agreed to either pay each owner a one-off payment of R50000 or they could also pursue court action. Affected owners will also be allowed to claim against the company in terms of Section 61 of the Consumer Protection Act.
The commission received 160 complaints from consumers who alleged their rights had been infringed by FMCSA. In July 2017, Ford announced it had implemented Phase II of repairs to all EcoBoost-powered Kugas, which included the fitting of a new coolant expansion tank with monitoring software and warning indicators, software that reduces power when dropped coolant levels are detected and new cooling pipes that are also rerouted from the original design.
But the deal came too late for Jimmy, who died in his car in the Wilderness on December 4, 2015, while on holiday. An initial forensic report blamed faulty wiring behind the dashboard. At the time, the company was slammed for suggesting Jimmy had committed suicide or died of a gunshot wound and disputing how and where the fire started.