Ford Pinto Case Study Essay

797 Words4 Pages
Amanda Nevill

Pinto Case Study

February 6, 2012

1. Put yourself in the role of the recall coordinator for Ford Motor CO. It’s 1973, and field reports have been coming in about rear-end collisions, fires, and fatalities. You must decide whether to recall the automobile.

A. Identify the relevant facts.

In August of 1978 three teenage girls were driving a Ford Pinto and were struck from behind. The three girls died because the Ford Pinto’s fuel tank ruptured from the collision and burst into flames. There was a big debate about the safety of the Ford Pinto to its proneness to its fuel tank catching on fire in low-speed rear-end
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Ford convinced NHTSA that cost/benefit analysis would be appropriate for determining not to change the fuel tank. The costs were eleven dollars per fuel tank to change which ended up equaling 137.5 million dollars. This number is very large and much bigger than the benefit if they would have not changed it, which was 49.5 million dollars.

B. Identify the pertinent ethical issues and points of ethical conflict.

All of the relevant facts discussed above lead to many ethical issues. Ford was aware of the problem with the gas tank leaking and could have changed it before others died from their mistakes. Putting a price value on a life to beat the Japanese in the small car market is unethical. Safety should be a company’s number one priority, not beating the completion. There was a legal issue of NHTSA and Ford. Ford was aware that the fuel tanks were not working correctly but did nothing to change it because the NHTSA, at the time, had no laws against it.

C. Identify the relevant affected parties.

a. Customers (Ford’s victims)

b. Drivers of Pinto

c. Ford Employees

d. Manufactures of Ford

e. Suppliers of Ford

f. Dealers of Ford

g. Stockholders


The customers (drivers of Ford) are the number one stakeholders that lost the most. They might not have lost much money or reputations, but they lost the one thing that you can never get back, their life.

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