Tags: Firestone | Ford | End | 100-year | Relationship

Firestone, Ford End 100-year Relationship

Tuesday, 22 May 2001 12:00 AM

Relations between two of the founding companies of the American auto industry have been strained since the tire recall and by reports Ford may seek a wider recall of Firestone tires not included in last August's recall.

Ford has blamed rollovers and accidents linked to 174 deaths and more than 700 injuries in the United States solely on Firestone tires and said there was no design flaw in its previous generation Ford Explorer sport-utility vehicle. Most of the deaths in rollover accidents caused by tread separation involved Explorers.

Firestone said Explorers equipped with Firestone tires had up to 10 times the number of claims as Ford Ranger light pickups riding on the same tires.

Ford said executives met with Firestone's top management Monday and planned to present Congress and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration with its research on Firestone Wilderness AT tires Tuesday.

"We are deeply disappointed that upon hearing and seeing this analysis of Firestone Wilderness AT tires, Firestone decided not to work together for the safety our shared customers, which is the only issue that matters," Ford said in a statement.

Firestone Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer John Lampe said there had been a breakdown in trust and mutual respect between the companies founded by Henry Ford and Harvey Firestone.

"We believe they are attempting to divert attention away from their vehicle by casting doubt on Firestone. Most of the death and injuries involved Ford explorers. From the vehicles and not from the tires," he told a news conference.

"When we have a problem we will acknowledge that problem and fix it. We have expected Ford to do the same but they have not. We have replaced over 6 million of our tires to address this problem."

In a strongly worded statement Monday morning, Lampe informed Ford of Firestone's decision to terminate its nearly century-long business supplying tires to Ford Motor Co. in a letter to CEO Jacques Nasser. The letter was given to Carlos Mazzorin, group vice president of global purchasing, at Firestone's headquarters in Nashville.

"Business relationships, like personal ones, are built upon trust and mutual respect," Lampe wrote. "We have come to the conclusion that we can no longer supply tires to Ford since the basic foundation of our relationship has been seriously eroded.

"This is not a decision we make lightly after almost 100 years of history. But we must look to the future and the best interests of our company, our employees and our other customers."

Lampe said an analysis by Firestone found a "significant safety concern with a substantial segment of Ford Explorers."

He accused Ford of withholding information about the Explorer as well as the tires "to divert scrutiny of your vehicle by casting doubt on the quality of Firestone tires."

Ford said the Explorer had consistently ranked at or near the top in terms of safety among the dozen SUVs in its class.

Firestone, the U.S. unit of Japan's Bridgestone Corp., said it would honor all existing agreements with Ford but make no new sales to Ford in the Americas.

The redesigned 2002 Ford Explorer and Mercury Mountaineer sport-utility vehicles introduced in mid-February are factory equipped with Goodyear or Michelin tires.

Ford Monday announced it had recalled 52,729 Explorers and Mountaineers made at a plant in Louisville, Ky., that may have had tires damaged on the assembly line.

Vehicles loaded too far on the right of the assembly line may have had the tread of right-side tires cut by a metal conveyer plate. A Ford spokesman said the half-inch deep cuts were more a cosmetic issue than a safety issue, but that Ford would replace any damaged tires free of charge.

Copyright 2001 by United Press International. All rights reserved.

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Relations between two of the founding companies of the American auto industry have been strained since the tire recall and by reports Ford may seek a wider recall of Firestone tires not included in last August's recall. Ford has blamed rollovers and accidents linked to...
Firestone,,Ford,End,100-year,Relationship
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2001-00-22
Tuesday, 22 May 2001 12:00 AM
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