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Ford Pinto Case

Ford Pinto Case. Agenda. Ford Motor Company in the 1970s The Pinto Problem Cost Benefit Analysis Ethical Issues Change Alternatives Recommendation. Ford Motor Company in the 70s. Young and ambitious new president Foreign competitors entering N.A. market

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Ford Pinto Case

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  1. Ford Pinto Case

  2. Agenda • Ford Motor Company in the 1970s • The Pinto • Problem • Cost Benefit Analysis • Ethical Issues • Change • Alternatives • Recommendation

  3. Ford Motor Company in the 70s • Young and ambitious new president • Foreign competitors entering N.A. market • No small car to compete with VW Beetle and others • The demand for results and profits are the most important aspect of business

  4. The Pinto • The Ford Pinto – a small car to compete with foreign car company competitors • Pinto – weighed 2000 lbs and cost $2000 • Rushed project led by Lee Iacocca • Planning took 25 months compared to the industry norm 43 months

  5. Problem • Testing found several safety defects • @ 25mph+ the gas tank would rupture in an accident • @ 30mph+ rear endings would cause the gas tank to leak and the rear of the car to be folded up into the back seats • @ 40mph+ the car doors would jam

  6. Gas Tank Configuration • Behind Rear-Axle Tank • Pros: Cons: • More Luggage space  Not as safe in rear-end collisions • Industry standard – felt it was safer

  7. Gas Tank Configuration • Over-the-Axle Tank • Pros: Cons: • Performed well in rear-end  Long “round-about” filler pipe • collisions  Closer to passengers in back seat •  Higher center of gravity •  Reduced trunk space

  8. Cost Benefit Analysis

  9. Ethical Issues • Ford employees • Lee Iacocca • Henry Ford II

  10. Ford Employees • Were they morally responsible to refuse to produce a car they knew would hurt the customer? • Should they have put more effort into convincing Iacocca that this car was unsafe? • Should they follow Iacocca’s commands regardless of their opinions since he is their superior in the company

  11. Lee Iacocca Safety? What safety. • Is Iacocca responsible for the safety of his customers? • Should he maximize profits for the company at any costs? • If safety defects are found after production, does he have a moral obligation to inform all his customers? • Should Iacocca have established a working environment where his employees did not feel that they would lose their jobs for disagreeing with him?

  12. Henry Ford II • Should Ford have trained his managers and presidents in safety? • Does Ford have a responsibility to design a culture that encourages employees to bring up safety defects? • Does Ford need to have a new policy that puts the has safety of their products more important than maximizing profits? • Does Ford have a moral responsibility to do what is best for his shareholders

  13. Assignment It’s 1973 and you are the Recall Coordinator: Field reports are coming in reporting the following: • Rear end collisions • Fires, and • Fatalities You must decide whether to recall the Pinto

  14. Six Relevant Facts • Before the Pinto, Ford was immersed in an intense, internal struggle between “Bunky” Knudson and Lee Iacocca over the company’s product line • Major pressure to compete with German & Japanese compact cars • Iacocca and the compact car won the struggle • The Pinto debuted in 1971 after the shortest (the most rushed) production in history • Ford is fully aware of the faulty fuel tank design; crash testing after debut revealed the fuel tank often ruptured during rear-end impact • In Ford’s opinion, it is too late (or rather too costly) for redesign

  15. Six Relevant Facts • The company’s president, Iacocca, insists: • Keep the original gas tank design; costs need to be kept down for the “cost conscious” Pinto buyer • Besides, “safety doesn’t sell.” • Colleagues, other Ford engineers, agree with Iacocca’s opinion about the faulty gas tank • “Safety isn’t the issue, trunk space is.” • Reports show, “The Cost of Dying in a Pinto” outweigh the benefits by almost three times • $137.5M cost vs. $49.5M benefits

  16. Pertinent Ethical Issues & Points of Ethical Conflict • The Pinto’s production was rushed and mistakes were clearly made: • Do I ignore the field reports coming in? • Do I recommend changes to current production? • Do I recommend a total recall? • According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration standards, the Pinto meets safety requirements • However, reports are not bumps and bruises, the reports are fatal explosions • There is a tremendous amount of pressure placed on Recall Manager to agree with the consensus of the company that “Safety is not an issue”

  17. Pertinent Ethical Issues & Points of Ethical Conflict • As the Recall Manager, will you be able to look at yourself in the mirror if more consumers are killed in their Pintos if you do not place the recall? • As the Recall Manager, you were hired to determine when a product is too dangerous to the public due to defect and needs to be returned to the factory • Which obligation comes first – obligation to Ford or the general public? • With the intense pressure to make the Pinto a success, will you lose your job if you recall the car? • Were any laws broken?

  18. Relevant Affected Parties • Recall Coordinator • Ford Motor Company • Ford Pinto Consumers • Ford Employees • Ford Pinto Consumers’ Passengers • Members of the General Public involved in Ford Pinto Accidents • General Public

  19. Possible Consequences • If you recall the Pinto, you could lose your job • If you recall the Pinto, you may save lives • Consumers, passengers, and general public • According to “The Cost of Dying in a Pinto” report, costs outweigh the benefits • Will the benefits of recalling the Pinto now outweigh the costs in the long term both in financial and saved human life revenue? • What type of reputation will Ford have once the general public finds out the company knew of the Pinto’s glaring defect, did not recall, and continued production?

  20. Possible Consequences (cont) • If you recall the Pinto, your fellow employees may lies their jobs • Will the general public accept the message Ford is sending • Ford does not care if we kill you and your family?

  21. Relevant Obligations • To Ford to ensure our products sustain a certain level of quality after purchase – even if the product was poorly designed and produced • To Ford’s consumers to ensure their safety when using our products – especially when the product was poorly designed and produced • To the general public to ensure Fords’ products are safe • To myself to do the job I was hired to do • To myself to be honest, especially when saving people’s lives are involved • To my fellow coworkers • Correcting manufacturer defects now ill uphold Ford’s reputation as an honest automobile dealer, ensuring repeat customers

  22. Ethical Guides • 3 Levels of Ethical Guides • Professional: Fod believes safety doesn’t sell; buyers buy because of price point and special features • Community: The general public wants safe automobiles on the road • Personal: Do I believe my company’s stance on the Pinto’s safety? Would I allow my own family to drive Pintos – without the recall?

  23. What would you do?!?!?

  24. Lawsuits Grimshaw v. Ford Motor Company EVIDENCEMrs. Gray, accompanied by 13-year old Richard Grimshaw, set out in the family’s new Pinto from Anaheim for Barstow to meet Mr. Gray in Barstow. As Mrs. Gray approached the Route 30 off-ramp where traffic was congested, she moved from the outer fast lane to the middle lane of the freeway. Shortly after this lane change, the Pinto suddenly stalled and coasted to a halt in the middle lane. A Ford Galaxie traveling immediately behind the Pinto was unable to avoid colliding with it. The Galaxie had been traveling from 50 to 55 miles per hour but before the impact had slowed to a speed of from 20 to 37 miles per hour. At the moment of impact, the Pinto caught fire and its interior was engulfed in flames. According to plaintiff’s expert, the impact of the Galaxie had driven the Pinto gas tank forward and caused it to be punctured by the flange or one of the bolts on the differential housing so that fuel sprayed from the punctured and entered the passenger compartment… When the occupants emerged from the vehicle, their clothing was almost completely burned off. Mrs. Gray died a few days later of congestive heart failure as a result of the burns. Richard Grimshaw managed to survive but only through heroic medical measures. He underwent numerous and extensive surgeries and skin grafts and faced additional surgeries over the next ten years. He lost portions of several fingers on his left hand, portions of his left ear, and his face required many skin grafts from various portions of his body.

  25. Grimshaw v. Ford Motor Company • Richard Grimshaw • 13-year old passenger in 1971 Ford Pinto • Struck from behind; exploded; badly burned over 90% of his body; 20 years reconstructive surgery • Awarded $125 million in punitive damages • $124 million profits made since Ford Pinto’s introduction • Judge reduced to: • $2.5 million compensatory damages • $3.5 million punitive damages

  26. After Grimshaw • On 1/15/80, Ford went on trial on charges of reckless homicide in the 1978 death of 3 Indiana teenagers who burned to death after their 1973 Pinto was hit from behind by a van • Indiana state prosecutors alleged that Ford knew Pinto gasoline tanks were prone to catch fire during rear-end collisions but failed to warn the public or fix the problem out of concern for profits. • The trial marked the 1st time that an American corporation was prosecuted on criminal charges • Ford was acquitted in March; the case was too complex

  27. How it Ends? • Ford was first urged to recall the Pinto in 1974 by the nonprofit Center for auto Safety • Late in 1978, Ford recalled all 1971-1976 Pinto models (1.5 million cars) • Modifications made: • Longer fuel filler neck • Plastic shields • Protected from rear differential • Protected from rear shock absorber

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