Ford Kuga owners, who fear their vehicles could burst into flames, are stuck with their cars, as Ford would not be swapping their vehicles after announcing a safety recall of the SUV on Monday.
Ford South Africa and National Consumer Commissioner Ebrahim Mohamed announced a safety recall at a media briefing in Pretoria, stating that more than 4 500 Ford Kuga 1.6-litre vehicles would be recalled for maintenance and repairs.
Asked whether disgruntled Kuga customers had the option of swapping vehicles or being refunded, Ford CEO Jeff Nemeth was confident the recall would satisfy customers.
“These are our customers and we will reassure them that their vehicle is safe to drive. There is no reason to lose faith in the vehicles. Every Ford customer has our assurance that each individual case will be dealt with on its own merits,” Nemeth said.
In total, 4 556 Ford Kuga 1.6-litre vehicles manufactured between 2012 and 2014, are to be recalled, with owners urged to contact their nearest Ford dealer.
Nemeth said the first stage would see the replacing of parts and warning systems relating to the engine’s cooling system, verifying and updating software and checking oil leaks and cylinder heads.
The second stage would be to make the cooling system more robust, with changes being thoroughly tested.
“We are committed to keeping customers mobile. Some dealers might not be able to complete the action due to shortage of parts. Should there be delays, owners will be provided with a courtesy car.”
At least 47 Kugas have apparently caught fire in the past year, with 33-year-old Reshall Jimmy dying after his car burst into flames in December 2015.
But Nemeth said Ford was not aware of any injuries related to the fires, adding that only 39 incidents were reported to them.
He said the fires resulted from overheating caused by lack of cooling and circulation, leading to a crack in the cylinder head that resulted in an oil leak that ignited the engine.
“With the case of Jimmy, all investigations ruled out an engine fire.”
Jimmy family attorney Rod Montano said they would take civil action against the Ford motor company.
“It was surprising to us during the press conference that they singled us out as a separate incident to other Kugas and still seem to be denying liability.
“We will discuss a strategy going forward and approach Ford for a resolution,” he said.