Ford shows how to do a recall right
Ford Motor Co. is showing the right way to conduct a safety recall with its response to reports of engine-compartment fires in the redesigned 2013 Escape crossover.
After three fires, two of them at the factory, Ford immediately set up a task force to determine the cause.
Once the problem was identified, Ford told consumers not to drive the vehicle and dealers not to sell it.
Ford had a lot at stake. Last year, the Escape was the company's second-best-selling vehicle in the United States, after the F-series pickup, the perennial sales leader. Moreover, Ford already had recalled the 2013 Escape for a carpet problem that could affect drivers trying to brake. And it risked bringing up memories of the trouble-plagued launch of the original Escape.
A well-conducted recall need not tarnish the image of either an automaker or a vehicle. Both Lexus and Saturn had major recalls within months of their launch. By handling its recall swiftly and appropriately, each brand enhanced its reputation for caring about its customers and treating them right.
In contrast, Toyota Motor Corp.'s dilly-dallying response to allegations of unintended acceleration probably hurt its reputation more than the allegations themselves.
Ford is to be commended for addressing the Escape's problem rapidly and forcefully.
When safety is an issue, anything less is not enough.