The feds may amend a 34-year-old standard for roof strength in rollovers and are posting public comments on the Internet. And - in an incident that shows disagreement between Ford Motor Co. and safety-minded subsidiary Volvo - making the comments disappear.
As part of a rollover lawsuit in Florida, lawyers got Ford Motor to release data showing it had weakened roofs on Ford Explorers during the 1990s. In an e-mail that became part of the court record, a Ford engineer said Explorer roofs have a "less-than-desirable safety margin."
Other documents from Volvo say stronger roofs "will increase the passengers' rollover protection" - a position that differs from Ford's.
After the documents had been on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's Web site for about 24 hours, Ford complained that their release had been barred by court order, and that disclosure would reveal trade secrets.
NHTSA yanked the documents on April 29 - but said it might put them back on the Web after reviewing Ford's claim.