If the Firestone tire safety issue isn't quelled soon, disaster looms for Bridgestone/Firestone Inc.
It's been six months since the first news report of safety problems with the Firestone ATX, ATX II and Wilderness AT tires on Ford Explorers. Lawsuits, at least 80 deaths, a recall of 6.5 million tires, and the issue is as hot as ever. Hotter.
Yes, the tires are being replaced. But why has this problem occurred, and who is to blame? A slow-moving investigation by a team of "our best people" isn't going to wash before a disbelieving public that is saturated with Firestone stories.
What's ahead? The politicians are jumping into the fray, planning hearings, breast-beatings and public whippings. Hungry attorneys are seeking class action suits. And "compassionate" competitors like Goodyear and Groupe Michelin are helping to further the recall, by replacing Firestones with their tires—and stealing customers away for good.
Ford Motor Co. and Bridgestone/Firestone need to answer many questions, and answer them soon, such as: When did they know there was a problem with these tires; and why is this problem inherent to Ford vehicles and not, say, General Motors Corp.'s products, which are equipped with 500,000 of the tires? The fact Ford is calling this a tire, not a vehicle, problem is a tip-off Bridgestone/Firestone will take the fall. Ford is its biggest customer.
Sick "Firestone jokes" already are starting. Bridgestone/Firestone needs to clear the air before it is too late for the Firestone brand.