Thursday, November 10, 2005

Thank you Ralph Nader

Check out this story from the archives of Mother Jones about Ford Motor Company's cost-benefit analysis which led them to conclude retooling their Pinto model's burn prone gas tank was not the most cost effective course of action. Nevermind the 500 or more people who burned to death during the seven years the car was on the market without revised safety standards.

  • Fighting strong competition from Volkswagen for the lucrative small-car market, the Ford Motor Company rushed the Pinto into production in much less than the usual time.
  • Ford engineers discovered in pre-production crash tests that rear-end collisions would rupture the Pinto's fuel system extremely easily.
  • Because assembly-line machinery was already tooled when engineers found this defect, top Ford officials decided to manufacture the car anyway—exploding gas tank and all—even though Ford owned the patent on a much safer gas tank.
  • For more than eight years afterwards, Ford successfully lobbied, with extraordinary vigor and some blatant lies, against a key government safety standard that would have forced the company to change the Pinto's fire-prone gas tank.
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