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Firestone, Clunkers and Chapter 11: The Decade in Car News Page 4

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2001 Ford Explorer XLS

2001 Ford Explorer XLS

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Ford Survives Firestone Recall; Explorer, Not So Much

The decade began with Ford's most severe challenge since the Pinto. A series of incidents involving the Ford Explorer and Firestone tires were related to improperly inflated tires, which overheated. That led to tread separation--and hundreds of deaths and injuries on America's highways. In addition to the 270 fatalities, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) logged thousands of injuries and property claims made to automobile manufacturers and tire companies. As a result, the Firestone name retreated under its Bridgestone corporate umbrella for years--but Ford's losses were just as steep. The recall hurt badly--but the change in consumer tastes that followed felt more permanent, and possibly arose as a result of the Firestone debacle. Sales of the Explorer SUV have plummeted from more than 400,000 annually to about 35,000 this year, with a new carlike Explorer in development for the 2011 model year.


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Comments (9)
  1. I've always had a problem with Cash4Clunkers. To me it seems to go against simple supply and demand economics. How can we push all of these new cars into a market already saturated with used and repossessed vehicles (i.e. www.repofinder.com)? Now new cars are worth even less, we have more Americans in debt, and eventually more repossessions.
     
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  2. Heres to a better 2010~
     
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  3. I love Padgett's writing but think there is more than a glimmer of hope for 2010. A picture is worth a thousand words-check the look on Lutz's face!
     
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  4. I'm sure the naughts will be looked back on as a time when American Capitalism started to lose its way, the auto industry being a textbook example. Will we get back on path? The auto industry might be one of the first places to look in the next several years.
     
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  5. The biggest change to me has been in how the public learns about cars -- which is partially what Marty's talking about in his last point. In the 2000s, the internet became a truly robust marketing medium with its own set of needs, limitations, and possibilities. Today, consumers can get more information than they ever wanted about nearly any new model, any recall, any tech development -- and in just seconds.
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    Of course, in internet is a two-way superhighway these days, and we've seen more than a few automakers take hits when bad news and reviews circulated quickly. (Hello, Crosstour.) On the other hand, models like the Ford Fiesta have used the web to great advantage.
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    So, here's to a well-informed public in the 2010s (though technically the decade doesn't start until next year). Maybe automakers will listen this go-round. Maybe?
     
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  6. As Richard Read points out, the next decade doesn't start til Jan 1, 2011. That said, this is a great roundup of important developments.
    I think another take on the GM-Chrysler bankruptcy (and Ford's commensurate cost reductions via negotiating with a UAW that briefly got some sense into its head) is that for the first time in two generations, the U.S. industry may be not only cost-competitive but actually become a powerhouse exporter. We'll check back in 2 years.
     
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  7. Hybrids as a category is definitely the story of the decade. IT has changed everything from how we look @ autos , legislation etc etc
     
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  8. I believe that alternative energy sourcewill be thetheme of the next decade.
     
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  9. Cash for clunkers would never work for a real business model.
     
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