Given its claw back from an inferior position just a few short years ago and the steadily rising sales of its vehicles virtually across the board, Ford Motor Co. wants to be associated in consumers' minds with quality and innovation.
Not truck accidents.
"Ford has been polishing their image and getting it very, very good, so this doesn't help," says the head of a Michigan consulting firm in responding to a massive Ford vehicle recall announced by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration ("NHTSA") last week.
Although no fatalities have yet been connected to the defect precipitating the recall, the corroded fuel tanks that are the strong focus of the NHTSA can actually fall from engines and have resulted in several fires and one known injury.
The problem relates directly to metal straps that secure the fuel tanks of older truck models. In cold-weather areas, such as Ohio in winter, de-icing chemicals used on roads can cause the straps to corrode.
The recall affects more than one million trucks, most notably the nation's best-selling vehicle, the F-150, from model years 1997 - 2004.
"They've got to get ahold of the affected customer fast; get it handled and put to bed," says one close industry observer. "Don't let it linger."
Ford likely intends to do just that, especially in light of a recall earlier this year that also focused on the F-150. More than one million trucks in that series were also recalled, owing to air-bag defects .
Related Resource: Bloomberg, "Ford Recalls F-150 Trucks for Fire-Causing Strap Corrosion" August 1, 2011