The National Consumer Commission (NCC) on Friday confirmed that a settlement had been reached with Ford Motor Company Southern Africa (FMCSA) regarding compensation for victims affected by the Kuga fire debacle.
Speaking at a media briefing, acting NCC commissioner Thezi Mabuza said the Detroit-based car maker had 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 4,556 Kuga 1.6 EcoBoosts in January 2017 after pictures and videos of burning vehicles went viral online.
Reading out her judgment, Mabuza stated that the Blue Oval had also offered three compensation options to consumers, the first a cash back of R50,000 to owners of Kugas that went up in flames, which, if taken, would also serve as a final settlement against all claims brought up as a result of the fires.
The second option would entail consumers wanting more than the provided compensation to submit a claim against the FMCSA in terms of Section 61 of the Consumer Protection Act with state advocate Terry Motau set to represent applicants. While the FMCSA has agreed to carry some of Motau’s costs, the NCC has stated that applicants wishing to use their own lawyer would be liable for the full costs. Consumers not opting for any of the mentioned settlements would therefore be left with the third and final option, which involves the case being taken to court to prove further damages.
In a statement released in July 2017, Ford stated that it 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.
The Phase II repairs came just over five months after the introduction of a six year/200,000 km PremiumCare Extended Plan on not only the 1.6 Kugas, but also the 1.5 EcoBoost motor that replaced it, as well as the 2.0 TDCI engine and even the 2.5-litre turbocharged five-cylinder from the first generation model, despite these not having been effected by any blazes.