If the Volkswagen Gate focuses media attention, other industrial scandals have punctuated the automotive adventure. Let's go back to the Ford Pinto affair. A compact launched in 1970 and whose tank had the unfortunate tendency to ignite after a rear impact. Faced with the rise of Japanese and European manufacturers on American soil with much more fuel-efficient cars, Ford responds by marketing September 11, 1970 the Pinto whose success in the early years is undeniable for this compact 3-door and 4 seats. However, internally, the engineers sounded the alarm after the crash tests:
At a rear impact between 30 and 40 km / h, the fuel tank can come off and ignite. Added to this is the weakness of the chassis whose strong torsion during the shock prevents the occupants from opening the doors. Prisoners, they only have to perish by the flames. The secret remains well hidden until 1977 and an article of "Mother Jones Magazine" (called Pinto Madness). An article triggering other journalistic investigations as well as the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), US authority on transport.
The general public becoming aware of the hidden defect of the Ford Pinto, the procedures are not long in following. For example, on August 10, 1978, a grand jury in Indiana sentenced Ford for a triple manslaughter after three girls burned alive in a rear-impact Pinto. Except that Ford's cynicism had planned everything. The leaders of the American manufacturer had calculated that a reminder campaign was much more expensive than the compensation of families of victims set at $ 200,725 at the time. Officially, the families of 27 Ford Pinto victims got compensation and Ford was fined $ 125 million before the fine was reduced to $ 4 million on appeal. According to a 1991 Rutgers Law Review, it would be more than a hundred casualties to be counted in rear impacts in Ford Pinto (Birsch, 123).
Although the major defect was corrected in 1974, the Ford Pinto remained commercialized for 10 years. It is indeed only in 1980 that this model disappears. Not that Ford had finally realized its mistake, but simply because the model was no longer sold. It must be said that in the four corners of America, this car was nicknamed " The Barbecue that seats 4 ", the Barbecue 4 places.
A reputation that has also made its way into popular culture. In the film " Cujo ", adapted from a novel by Stephen King, one of the characters dies, prisoner of a burning Ford Pinto. The Pinto also found in the parody of films on the Second World War " Top Secret! ". A vehicle loaded with German soldiers explodes after a slight contact with the bumper of the Ford.
Birsch, Douglas, and John Fielder. "The Ford Pinto case: A study in applied ethics, business, and technology." (1994).
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