The recall affected approximately 1.5 million Pintos with model years from 1971 to 1976 (as well as the similar Mercury Bobcat, from 1975 to 1976). This case helped push the automobile industry away from "safety doesn't sell" and toward emphasizing new safety features in their marketing. The suits might have bankrupted the company, so we kept our mouths shut for fear of saying anything that just one jury might have construed as an admission of guilt.

In the early 1970s, Lee Iacocca was president of the Ford Motor Company. the solution was a liner that was installed in the tank to keep the gas tank from cutting open during a rear end collision. [2] Ford continued to push the production pace without publishing its test results. An Elkart County, Indiana public prosecutor charged Ford Motor Co. with reckless homicide and criminal recklessness after three women died when their Pinto was rear-ended on the freeway.

The Pinto, a subcompact car made by Ford Motor Company, became infamous in the 1970s for bursting into flames if its gas tank was ruptured in a collision.

[15], The precedent of using the calculus of negligence as a legal standard was set in the ruling of United States v. Carroll Towing Co. in 1947. In 1972, a Ford Pinto driven by Lilly Gray stalled as she entered a merge lane on a California freeway.

The test had multiple parameters set to maximize the damage and potential for fire. This was followed by a 60 Minutes segment where they accused Ford of buying 2000 deaths and 10000 injuries because they wanted to build a cheaper car. The Pinto was unique in other ways besides its small size.

Mateja, J. [1] Grimshaw v. Ford Motor Co. exposed Ford’s risk-benefit analysis, the company’s reasoning to withhold a recall. (1990). Something went wrong. Later that year, General Motors recalled 320,000 of its 1976 and 1977 Chevettes for similar fuel tank modifications. In April 1974, the Center for Auto Safety asked the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to issue a recall on the Ford Pinto to address the flaws in the fuel system design[18]. However, the potential dangers of this placement were exacerbated by other decisions made in the design process. Ford's cost-benefit analysis showed it was cheaper to endure lawsuits and settlements than to remedy the Pinto design. In 1970, the Ford Motor Company proudly debuted its newest addition to the family: the Pinto. One such case can be observed with steelworkers in the 1970's. Retrieved from, Birsch, D. & Fielder, J.H. These companies had more experience producing economical cars than their American counterparts. Rather than wait for the public hearing, Ford agreed to do a voluntary recall on the Pinto on June 8, 1978[21]. However, the NHTSA initially decided that there was not enough evidence to actually launch an investigation[18]. As Executive Vice President and later as President of Ford, Iacocca was the driving force behind the program to produce the Pinto. The Ford Pinto Case. Part of the court’s reasoning was that Ford knew about the dangers, but pushed the Pinto onto an unwitting consumer market anyway. This case could have avoided many calamities if the engineers held themselves this code. The families sued Ford Motor Company, and in 1978 the jury awarded them over $125 million in damages, though it was later reduced to $3.5 million by the judge[11].

Feldman, Allan & Kim, Jeonghyun. In this formula, B is the burden(the cost of taking precautions to prevent a harmful outcome or loss), P is the probability of the harmful outcome, and L is the financial magnitude of the loss. While the controversy behind the use of the value of human life in risk-benefit analysis still persists, it has become not only a common practice but an expected practice. Marketed as costing just a dollar per pound, the Pinto’s compact 2,000-pound frame clocked in at a modest $2,000, making the car affordable and popular. The court ruled that Connors Marine Company was responsible in part, due to their absent barge attendant, who should have been on the Anna C. at the time of the accident.

Ford engineers chose to place the fuel tank at the back of the car, directly between the rear bumper and rear axle. Upon impact, the Pinto's fuel tank ruptured, leaking fuel which then ignited.

Soon after, the NHTSA scheduled a public hearing for that June and began negotiating with Ford to recall the vehicle[19]. Leggett, C. (1999). Over the Pinto’s nine year production service, rear-end crash burn fatalities ranged from 27 to 180. These included that Ford knew that the Pinto was wildly unsafe, and that they did not implement design changes due to their cost benefit analysis showing that it would be more profitable to simply pay for lawsuits and damages[16]. Iacocca, a rising star at Ford due to his success with the Mustang, argued that Volkswagen and the Japanese were going to capture the entire American subcompact market unless Ford produced an alternative to the VW Beetle. Danley, J. Allison, Jay. In other words, Ford decided that profits were all that mattered, and that irreplaceable human life ultimately carried a lower value than an inanimate heap of aluminum, plastic, and glass. [6][7] The rise of subcompact foreign imports and the steady increase in gas prices prompted a response from American automotive companies. Did anyone go to Iacocca and tell him the gas tank was unsafe?

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