DEARBORN, Mich. (May 23, 2001)–Ford Motor Co. will spend about $3 billion before taxes, or $2 billion-plus after taxes, to replace all the Firestone Wilderness AT tires on its vehicles, Ford CEO Jacques Nasser said at a press conference May 22.
While the 13 million Wilderness AT tires not included in last August's recall “performed substantially better” on the Ford Explorer and other vehicles than the recalled tires, a combination of field data, government information and Ford's own technical analysis suggested that their failure rates would exceed industry standards in the future, according to Mr. Nasser.
“We simply do not have enough confidence in the future safety of these tires,” he said. “It's as simple and basic and fundamental as that.”
John Rintamaki, Ford group vice president and chief of staff, said owners of the tires could get them replaced free through Ford and Lincoln-Mercury dealers or reimbursements of $110 to $130 per tire after going through “authorized” tire dealers. The 1.5 million Wilderness AT tires used to replace last year's recalled tires will be recalled in turn, and no Firestone tires will be used as replacements, Messrs. Nasser and Rintamaki said.
Ford Chairman William Clay Ford Jr., whose mother was a Firestone, said the feud between Ford and Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. was “deeply disturbing” to him, but added that his family's current connection with the tire maker is only “emotional and historical.”
Messrs. Nasser and Rintamaki also slammed Bridgestone/Firestone's assertions that it was never asked to join in today's announced recall and that the Wilderness AT tire on the Ford Explorer is 10 times more likely to fail on the Ford Explorer than on the Ford Ranger. “We didn't ask them (to join in the recall) because they said they wanted to terminate the relationship, and that was that,” Mr. Nasser said.
Mr. Rintamaki, meanwhile, said comparing the tire failure rates of the Explorer and Ranger was a false analogy, because the Explorer is a sports-utility vehicle and the Ranger is a pickup truck. “That data would be the same for any manufacturer,” he said.