Bridgestone: Tire blame is partly Ford's
TOKYO - Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. has made official its claim that the Ford Explorer deserves some blame for tire-related catastrophic crashes that federal officials say killed at least 148 people and injured more than 500. The tire maker, in a report to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, says its research shows a combination of factors led to thousands of failures of Firestone 15-inch ATX, ATX II and Wilderness AT tires, mostly tread separations. The factors include tire design and production methods. But the report also said Ford Motor Co.'s tire pressure recommendations and the weight distribution of the Explorer were involved. Ford spokesman Ken Zino said his company agrees with some findings but not with the Explorer claims. NHTSA spokesperson Rae Tyson said: 'At this point, it is still a tire investigation.'
Protege prices rise 1.7%
LOS ANGELES - Mazda has raised prices of Protege sedans an average of $247, or 1.7 percent, for 2001, according to Automotive News. The base DX is $13,245, up $550 over the final 2000-model price; the LX is $13,965, down $30; and the ES 2.0 is $16,010, up $220. All prices include the $480 destination charge. The ES has a 2.0-liter engine, up from 1.8 liters in 2000. New to the lineup is the LX 2.0 sedan at $14,365. (See story on the 2001 Protege, Page 17.)
Ford trims production
DETROIT - Ford Motor Co. has cut its North American production schedule for the first quarter of 2001 by 9.2 percent, the company reported Thursday, Dec. 21.
Ford said earlier that it would build 1,157,000 vehicles in the first quarter. Now it says it will produce 1,050,000. In the first quarter of 2000, Ford built 1,270,000 vehicles.
'It's clear that U.S. economic growth is slowing,' said Martin Inglis, vice president of Ford of North America, in a statement. 'Surveys of consumer sentiment point to lower levels of spending in the future.'