Weekly News: May 28, 2001 Page 2

May 28, 2001

FORD DOUBLES FIRESTONE RECALL Ford Motor Company has decided to replace all 13 million Firestone Wilderness tires on its vehicles, calling it a precautionary measure. The automaker said that the safety record of all Wilderness tires is worse than tires offered from other tiremakers, not just those produced at the Decatur, Illinois, plant and covered by the original recall. Ford claims that data gathered with assistance from Firestone and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) supports this. Earlier in the week, Firestone said that it would stop supplying tires to Ford, due to a lack of cooperation and Ford's refusal to consider potential design flaws in the Explorer that might have led to the accidents. The move effectively doubles the size of the Firestone recall, although Ford will entirely pick up the bill this time, estimated to be in the vicinity of $3 billion. Ford will replace Wilderness AT tires on its Explorer, Expedition, Ranger, and F-150 models free of charge, regardless of the tire size. For more information, call Ford's customer service center at 800-300-1226. 

U.S. AUTO SALES WILL CONTINUE DECLINE Analysts expect May U.S. auto sales to continue their decline for the eighth straight month, with a 6.8-percent drop, says Bloomberg News. Domestic brands will again be hit hardest with General Motors expected to lose another 12 percent. Car sales are anticipated to drop by 9.2 percent, with a more modest drop of 4.3 percent for truck models.

REPORT RANKS INTEGRA MOST COSTLY IN THEFT According to Highway Loss Data Institute, the Acura Integra has the country's highest theft insurance rates. The organization's most recent study reveals the industry-wide theft premium for two-door Integras to average $230, while the average for passenger vehicles is only $15. The Chevrolet Corvette and Cadillac Escalade ranked second and third, with average theft premiums of $73 and $71, respectively. The group said that the Integra's accessories are popular with those who customize Honda Civics.

JACKSON THREATENS TOYOTA BOYCOTT Jesse Jackson is calling for a nationwide boycott of Toyota if the automaker does not fire its U.S. advertising agency, Los Angeles-based Saatchi and Saatchi. Jackson is protesting a postcard, targeting 18- to-34-year-olds, which features a gold RAV4 sport-utility vehicle on the tooth of a black man. Jackson calls the marketing materials negative imagery, and says that he has gathered support for a Toyota boycott. He also accused Toyota of not having a program to include minorities in its operations, and of not having enough minority-owned dealerships. At last check, a meeting between Jackson and company executives was said to be unproductive and Jackson was prepared to begin his demonstration against the company.

FORD SUVS TAKE A HIT IN NEWEST RATINGS The federal government has released its latest set of rollover ratings, this time for several sport-utility models that had not yet been rated. The popular full-size Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator SUV models scored a low, two-star rating in the center-of-gravity-based rollover formula, further marring Ford's SUV safety concerns. The other nine sport-utility vehicles, including the Nissan Pathfinder, Infiniti QX4, Isuzu Rodeo, Honda Passport, Lexus RX300, and Pontiac Aztek, in this batch of tests received three-star ratings.

LOST FIRESTONE BUSINESS WILL BE HARD TO RECOVER After saying that it will no longer supply tires to Ford Motor Company, Firestone can't expect to make up for it with increased business from automakers like General Motors. GM has admitted that it will decrease the use of Firestone tires on its vehicles, although the company might shift some of the vehicles to Bridgestone tires instead of Firestone tires, which would allow Bridgestone Firestone to keep most of its existing business with the automaker. Nissan, who also uses Firestone tires, has chosen to not use them this fall on its redesigned Altima model.

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