Vic­tim of com­bust­ing Ford Kuga had nar­row es­cape

Al­ber­ton man an­gry with how com­pany has han­dled con­tro­versy

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - SIHLE MANDA sihle.manda@inl.co.za @Sih­le_MG

THE LAT­EST vic­tim of the com­bust­ing Ford Kuga de­ba­cle has re­counted the mo­ments lead­ing up to his close shave with death yes­ter­day morn­ing.

Al­ber­ton res­i­dent War­ren Krog was driv­ing on the Voortrekker on-ramp to his sub­urb from the N12 when he saw thick smoke com­ing from the rear of his car.

He is the lat­est vic­tim of a se­ries of in­ci­dents where mo­torists have seen their same 2013 ve­hi­cle model go up in flames.

Re­shall Jimmy was one such mo­torist who burnt to death af­ter his car ex­ploded in 2015 in the West­ern Cape.

De­tail­ing his own or­deal, Krog said: “I no­ticed smoke com­ing out and thought about the other Kuga fires re­ported.

“I pulled over and jumped out of my car, and there was al­ready a fire. I then grabbed my per­sonal be­long­ings – wal­let, lap­top, house key – and ran away from the car,” he said.

Krog flagged a pass­ing po­lice of­fi­cer for as­sis­tance.

“She stopped but she didn’t have a fire ex­tin­guisher. Some peo­ple driv­ing to­wards Al­ber­ton also stopped but no one had an ex­tin­guisher. The cop then called the fire de­part­ment,” he said.

The fire de­part­ment got to the scene 15 min­utes later.

“I heard about the sto­ries from my mom be­cause she has been fol­low­ing the story.

“I re­ceived an SMS from Ford in De­cem­ber, around the 23rd, say­ing ‘You need bring in your car for a checkup’, and they gave an email ad­dress that I needed to mail.

“I mailed that ad­dress but never got a re­sponse. I tried to call the 0800 num­ber but it just cut off – no­body an­swered. When I got back to work on Jan­uary 3, I made con­tact with Ford Kemp­ton Park.

“I asked how quickly I could bring in my car, but I was given the date of the 18th. I told them that cars were burn­ing, and what if some­thing hap­pens to my car; what if it catches alight and burns my house while I’m sleep­ing?’,” he said.

Krog added he was then asked to check the car’s coolant sys­tem and make sure it was not empty.

“They said if I checked that then I should be fine, but un­for­tu­nately this had not hap­pened in this case,” he said.

Krog said he was very an­gry at how Ford SA had han­dled the mat­ter.

“They don’t al­low the re­al­ity of the sit­u­a­tion to take con­trol. They should have asked us to bring in the cars for a check im­me­di­ately. This morn­ing I was meant to take my daugh­ter and friend to school, and this is what upsets me. If I was 5km away from the school, I would have car­ried on.

“A fright­en­ing thing I heard this morn­ing is that if the car’s elec­tron­ics burn, you are locked in the car – and I didn’t know this. I could have lost my life, my daugh­ter’s and a friend’s life. It’s im­por­tant for peo­ple to un­der­stand that once they start see­ing smoke, they need to get out of the car. I was lucky to have opened my win­dows in time,” he said.

Ford has launched an in­ves­ti­ga­tion of en­gine fires in the Kuga models equipped with the 1.6-litre EcoBoost en­gine, which is also be­ing mon­i­tored by the Na­tional Con­sumer Com­mis­sion. The car man­u­fac­turer has also of­fered an hour-long free checkup for own­ers of this model.

Ford SA spokesper­son Mi­nesh Bha­ga­loo said: “The stan­dard process in place al­lows for cus­tomers to take their ve­hi­cles in at their ear­li­est con­ve­nience for the check to be done. No dealer should ask a cus­tomer to bring the car in at a later stage. Should parts not be avail­able, the cus­tomer will be put in a loan ve­hi­cle.”

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