KU­GAS RE­CALLED

Vic­tim’s fam­ily plans le­gal ac­tion against Ford

The Star Early Edition - - FRONT PAGE - RAPULA MOAT­SHE

THE IN­CI­DENTS of Ford Kuga SUV 1.6 en­gines catch­ing fire, in­clud­ing the death of a mo­torist in a burn­ing ve­hi­cle, had led to a vol­un­tary safety re­call of at least 4 546 units of the model, the com­pany said yes­ter­day.

Fears were mount­ing that the ve­hi­cles had been fit­ted with mal­func­tion­ing cooler sys­tems with the po­ten­tial to cause en­gine fires.

The an­nounce­ment by Ford was made in the face of the pos­si­ble class ac­tion by the Kuga fire victims and a loom­ing le­gal ac­tion by the fam­ily of Re­shall Jimmy, who died when his 2014 Kuga caught fire in De­cem­ber 2015. The man was on hol­i­day at Wilder­ness in the West­ern Cape.

At­tor­ney Rod Mon­tano said the Jimmy fam­ily would host a brief­ing to­mor­row in Pre­to­ria where they would an­nounce de­tails about the civil claims of the victims.

The re­call­ing of the ve­hi­cles was an­nounced at a joint me­dia brief­ing be­tween Ford SA and the Na­tional Con­sumer Com­mis­sion in Pre­to­ria yes­ter­day.

Ford SA boss Jeff Nemeth ex­pressed con­do­lences to the Jimmy fam­ily.

The an­nounce­ment fol­lowed months of pub­lic out­rage at the car man­u­fac­turer’s fail­ure to act swiftly de­spite sev­eral re­ports of ve­hi­cles catch­ing fire and a life be­ing lost.

Nemeth said that con­trary to me­dia re­ports sug­gest­ing that 47 ve­hi­cles had caught fire, 39 cases had been re­ported to Ford.

Ve­hi­cles to be re­called were the Ford Kuga 1.6 as­sem­bled be­tween De­cem­ber 2012 and Fe­bru­ary 2014.

Ford said the re­call fol­lowed a probe into the en­gine-re­lated problem, which found the fires were the re­sult of over­heat­ing caused by a lack of coolant cir­cu­la­tion.

This led to a crack form­ing in the cylin­der head, fol­lowed by an oil leak. “If the leak­ing oil reaches some en­gine com­po­nents, it can po­ten­tially catch fire,” Nemeth said.

“All ve­hi­cles, in­clud­ing those that had been checked, must be taken to Ford deal­ers as soon as pos­si­ble,” he said.

The safety re­call would en­sure that af­fected com­po­nents on the cooler sys­tem were re­placed as well as ver­i­fi­ca­tion and up­dat­ing of soft­ware. Pro­fes­sion­als would con­duct oil leak checks on the cylin­ders.

“I want to re­as­sure you that at Ford the safety of our cus­tomers is our num­ber one priority,” Nemeth said.

“I would like to apol­o­gise for any con­ve­nience, fear and un­cer­tainty ex­pe­ri­enced with our prod­ucts.”

He said courtesy cars would be ar­ranged for those likely to take their ve­hi­cles in to deal­er­ships. “We un­der­stand that the re­cent in­ci­dents have im­pacted on cus­tomer con­fi­dence.”

In the lat­est in­ci­dent, a Ford Kuga caught fire when a man and his fam­ily were driv­ing along the M1 on their way to the Mall of Africa on Satur­day.

Dino Me­taxas said black smoke started com­ing from the back of his car. He pulled over and got his mother, fa­ther and daugh­ter out of the car.

PIC­TURE: OUPA MOKOENA

CLAIMS: Kaveen Jimmy, Re­shall’s brother, with his lawyer Rod Mon­tano, ad­dresses the me­dia af­ter the Kuga brief­ing.

BURNT BE­YOND RECOG­NI­TION: Re­shall Jimmy

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