DETROIT (June 26, 2001)—The Ford Explorer went on trial last week, and the verdict in one forum is bad news for Ford Motor Co.
A consumer survey last week found that a hefty 43 percent of respondents said Ford's level of honesty was poor. The survey was taken after the congressional hearings on the safety of the Ford Explorer and its Firestone tires.
The results show Ford has a long way to go to rebuild its public image. In fact, Ford's image has slipped since an earlier survey, after the first Firestone recall in August of 6.5 million tires. At that time, only 18 percent of respondents said Ford's level of honesty was poor.
Both surveys were conducted via e-mail for Automotive News by OpinionSurveys.com, a unit of the Dohring Co. in Glendale, Calif.
In last week's survey, 74 percent of the 1,412 respondents blamed Explorer rollovers on a combination of the vehicle and the Firestone tires. This suggests that few people are buying Ford's argument that the issue is solely a tire problem.
Ford can take some consolation from one part of the survey. Asked which company, Ford or Bridgestone/Firestone Inc., was most credible, respondents chose Ford by a wide margin — 62 percent to 38 percent.
Bridgestone/Firestone also received poor marks for honesty. Fifty percent said the tire company's level of honesty was poor; in last year's survey, the figure was 34 percent.
Mr. Child writes for Automotive News, a sister publication of Tire Business.