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Ford – firestone tire case


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Ford – firestone tire case

  1. 1.  Ford Motor Company  Jacques Nasser ▪ CEO of Ford at time of Incident  Alan Mulally ▪ Later CEO of Ford; resumed business with Bridgestone/Firestone that Nasser terminated  FirestoneTire  JohnT. Lampe ▪ Chairman & CEO of Bridgestone/Firestone at time of incident  Others/Independents  Joan Claybrook ▪ President of public advocacy group “Public Citizen” ▪ Former administrator of the National HighwayTraffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)  Clarence Ditlor ▪ Executive director for the Center for Auto Saftey  Sam Boyden ▪ State Farm Insurance agent ▪ One of the first to notice the correlation between Ford Explorers and their high failure rate with Firestone tires ▪ Notified NHTSA which is what formally started an investigation
  2. 2.  Ford Motor Company and Firestone tire (Now owned by Japanese BridgestoneTire) have been closely related since their conception, and there have even been multiple marriages between members of the Ford and Firestone family  An agreement between the two parties was forged; Firestone would produce the Wilderness AT/ATX tires specifically for the Ford Explorer SUV from 1990 onwards  An trend started to occur with the pairing of these tires and Ford’s SUVs; the tires seemed to be prone to catastrophic failure at high speeds or high rates of turning, often resulting in rollovers of the SUVs causing serious injury and often death.
  3. 3.  In 1998, an insurance agent from State Farm named Sam Boyden was notified about the excessive numbers of insurance claims involving tread separation on Firestone tires. Further research from Sam showed that every single case in question involved Firestone Wilderness AT and ATX tires, and almost all of them were installed on the Ford Explorer SUV.  Boyden then notified the NHTSA via e-mail, but did not receive any formal response other than a “thank you” from NHTSA.With another 30 similar cases between 1998 and 1999 he sent more and more notifications to the NHTSA.  After more and more news programs, radio stations, and insurance agencies reported more and more accidents involving injury and death, the NHTSA finally decided to step up and begin a full Investigation in May of 2000  The investigation involved more than 47 million Wilderness AT and ATX tires, and by August of 2000 the NHTSA had recorded 68 fatalities since 1990, with many still left to uncover. By September 19, 2000, the NHTSA had uncovered 103 deaths and more than 400 serious injuries.  In the fall of 2000, Bridgestone/Firestone announced a recall of their AT and ATX tires under strong recommendation from both Ford and the NHTSA
  4. 4. Additional Facts and Information • Most of the rollovers were caused from tread separation • Engineers from Ford did testing on the tires and the SUV before the model was released, and recommended the suggested tire pressure to be no less than 30 psi, but Ford decided to label the “safe operating pressure” as 26-30. Many people went by the lower number, and it is thought this caused many accidents • Almost all rollovers were caused by rear tire failure, and it was often the left rear, this is attributed to the fuel tank being on the left • The Explorer was released in Eastern countries including Saudi Arabia and Malaysia.The rollover problems were reported back to Ford then, but they decided to ignore the reports, telling the public that the terrain in these countries does not pertain to the data that would be obtained from testing in America. • In late 2000, Ford had had enough, and encouraged Explorer owners to replace their tires, and even gave Explorer owners enough money to buy a set of tires from a manufacturer of their preference. Jacques Nasser ended the Ford/Firestone partnership after this. • During production at the Decatur, Illinois FirestoneTire plant (where most of the defective tires came from), workers reported that they were told to stop using the chemical solvent that adhered the critical bond between steel and rubber on the tire in order to speed up production.This lack of adhesive is most likely the reason why the Decatur plant had such a high failure rate
  5. 5.  Section II.1, part b –  Engineers shall approve only those engineering documents that are in conformity with applicable standards ▪ Although some engineers at Ford pointed out that the Explorer needed tires pressurized at a minimum of 30 psi, preferably more, Ford’s chief engineers decided to label the tires as 26-30psi, due to the fact they would need to use more expensive tires if they were to label them at greater than 30psi  Section I.3, Section III.3  Engineers shall issue public statements only in an objective and truthful manner  Engineers hall avoid all conduct or practice that deceives the public ▪ Ford and Firestone knew from the early release of the Explorer in other countries that the SUV would be prone to potentially lethal accidents, yet assured the public that these accidents were due to the indigenous terrain of these countries, and not to a design flaw of the SUV or ATX/AT tires.  Section III.2, part b  Engineers shall not complete, sign, or seal plans and/or specifications that are not in conformity with applicable engineering standards. If the client of employer insists on such unprofessional conduct, they shall notify the proper authorities and withdraw from further service on the project ▪ Workers in the Decatur Firestone plant knew that skipping the adhesive that held the steel and rubber tire layers together would most likely result in catastrophic failure, and yet continued production without question
  6. 6.  Natural Rights  Many, many people were killed due to the corners cut on both Ford and Firestone/Bridgestone’s side, so the Right to Life was most definitely violated.  The Right to the Security of One’s person was also violated; even if one of the SUVs in question did not catastrophically fail, killing or maiming the driver, any Explorer equipped with Firestone AT or ATX tires was in great risk of tread separation and in turn rollover.
  7. 7.  Universalizability  Maxim – It would be acceptable for any corporation to endanger and possibly kill users of their product if they could cut cost and production time.  The NHTSA would definitely not agree with this principle, and as such the universalizability test is failed
  8. 8. FORD  Knew the Explorer was prone to failure from an early release in other countries, and lied to the public saying it was safe  Willingly mis-labeled safe operating tire PSI to prevent having to change tire design to a stronger (and more expensive) version. FIRESTONE/BRIDGESTONE  Intentionally cut corners to increase production of tires  Workers and engineers who spoke up on the issues were called “disgruntled” by Firestone and promptly fired.  This caused a lack of workers, and combined with strikes from other workers, Firestone decided to cut more corners by stopping the application of a crucial adhesive that bonded the steel and rubber layers of tires. The NHTSA can also be considered partially at fault; they overlooked many complaints for years from bother engineers at both companies, as well as independent whistle-blowers like Joan Claybrook and Sam Boyden.The NHTSA only stepped up and launched an investigation after the death toll was in the hundreds
  9. 9.  Structured Whistle-blowing System  Many employees from both companies tried to alert their superiors and the NHTSA, but were mostly ignored or blown off; not taken seriously.There needed to be a system where an engineer or employee could report a serious problem, and have action taken immediately, not years later.  Ethical/HR Departments  There needs to be a small group of people in each company who’s job is to monitor the projects being worked on, as well as the engineers working on it, and ensure both are operating in an ethical fashion. If such a group existed, the corners cut would most likely never have been cut, and hundreds of people would not have been killed.  Whistle-blowing choices for independents  As stated earlier, many people such as Joan Claybrook, Clarence Ditlor, and Sam Boyden noticed the problem with the Explorer and ATX/AT tires early on, but were mostly ignored when they notified the NHTSA, most likely due to the fact that they were not employed in the involved companies.  Better AmericanTire Regulations  Joan Claybrook pointed out that in other parts of the world, such as the European Union, tire safety is taken much more seriously, with routine inspections and additional nylon layers to prevent tread deseparation. Joan believed that if America had a tighter hold on their tire regulation and legislation, the entire crisis could have been averted