FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Ralph K. Durstein, Deputy Attorney General
Consumer Protection Unit
Phone: (302) 577-8510
Date: December 20, 2002
Attorneys General Announce $51.5 Million Nationwide Settlement Agreement with The Ford Motor Company
(Wilmington, DE): Attorney General M. Jane Brady, today announced that
Delaware, and 52 states and territories, have settled with The Ford Motor
Company to resolve allegations of deceptive trade practices relating to the
sales and advertising of Ford SUVs.
The states alleged that Ford failed to disclose a known safety risk
concerning tire failures with certain Firestone ATX and Wilderness AT tires
which were original equipment on some Ford Explorer and Mercury Mountaineer
SUVs manufactured from 1990 to 2001. The states also alleged that Ford's
advertising misled consumers as to the safe use of Ford SUVs, and that
certain aftermarket tires sold through Ford's "Around the Wheel" program were
the same tires as the tires that came equipped on Ford SUVs when that was not
true. Ford denied any wrongdoing.
Under the settlement agreement, Ford agrees to:
• Refrain from any misrepresentations about the cargo capacity, safety and
handling characteristics of their SUVs, or the purpose of any recall or
recommended inspection. This includes prohibiting Ford from using the term
"car-like" in advertising with respect to the steering and handling of its
• To have reliable scientific evidence to substantiate any representations
about vehicle safety, performance or durability.
• To provide safety information about cargo loading and vehicle handling to
each consumer who buys a Ford SUV and provide Spanish language owners' guides
Ford also agreed to undertake a number of consumer education initiatives that
it will launch in the coming year and to abide by all state and federal laws
governing SUV safety, including a federal regulation that requires
manufacturers of SUVs with a wheel base under 110 inches to alert purchasers
that those vehicles have a higher possibility of rollover than other vehicle
types. Ford also will advise consumers of steps they can take to reduce the
potential for rollover or rollover-related injuries.
Ford agreed to pay a total of $51.5 million to the states, the District of
Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. Of that, $30 million will be
used to present a nationwide consumer education campaign on SUV safety. Each
of the jurisdictions, including Delaware, will receive $300,000 for consumer
protection and enforcement initiatives. Ford already has spent approximately
$2 billion to replace tires in the 53 jurisdictions.
"Consumers have the right to expect safe products and accurate
representations from the companies they deal with," said Brady. "Ford
rightly agreed to take steps to raise consumer awareness about SUV safety."
The joint settlement agreement comes a year after the states entered into a
$51.5 million nationwide settlement with Bridgestone/Firestone, Inc., related
to the advertising and sale of tires that had high rates of tread
separations. Bridgestone/Firestone manufactured the tires specifically for
use as original equipment on Ford Explorers and Mercury Mountaineers.
The states alleged that Ford continued to use the tires even after the
company knew the tires had an unacceptably high failure rate and that using
the tires made Ford's SUVs more likely to roll over. The states also alleged
that Ford advertising exaggerated the safe loading capacity and
maneuverability of Ford SUVs, and that Ford deceptively advertised
aftermarket tires as original equipment tires.
Today's announced settlement does not preclude an individual's right to
assert legal claims against Ford.