The automotive industry has gone through a number of dark times throughout its history. Cars with problems, negligent auto companies, or company policies deliberately aimed at destroying other companies is nothing new. It seems that it has always been company policy to worry more about profits than people, whatever the business. Read on to see how Ford was indicted for homicide, how GM set the auto industry back years, and how one company sold cars that it was never able to build.
Ford Indicted for Negligent Homicide
Ford has been rife with scandals, nearly since the very beginning. One of the most glaring scandals in its long history was that of the Ford Pinto. In 1971, the American auto industry was struggling against the tide of auto imports that were starting to dominate in the industry. In response, Ford came out with the Pinto, a small car that started out as a huge success selling over 328,000 cars in the first year. The problem with the Pinto was discovered not long after, and it unleashed a terrifying scandal that proved the Ford Motor Company only cared about the bottom line.
Before the car even went into production it was discovered that in a rear-end collision, the fuel tank of the car would rupture and spray fuel into the back seat. The fuel would then ignite causing the car to burst into flames. In 1973, a memo was leaked by the media and it showed that Ford’s number crunchers had done the math. To fix the problem would have been $12 per car which, according to the memo, would be costlier than paying out the lawsuits from the expected deaths and injuries.
In 1977, Mother Jones published an expose that proved Ford knew about the problem before the car went into production. By 1978, with the public rallying against them, Ford recalled all 1.5 million Pintos (and the Mercury Bobcat) and made the necessary repairs.
Not only did Ford end up making the repairs, but the lawsuit estimates by the number crunchers proved to be very wrong. With estimates of 900 deaths and numerous injuries, Ford ended up paying hundreds of millions in lawsuits. Even worse, after three teenage girls were killed, Ford was indicted for negligent homicide in 1978 but the company was acquitted.