1970 to 1980 Ford Motor Company produced a car that stayed within “the limits of 2000.” This car would weight no more than 2,000 lbs. and wouldn’t cost the customer more than $2,000. This vehicle was extremely fuel efficient, easy on both the consumer and manufactures wallet, and quick to produce. Sounds great doesn’t it? Well it was, consumers loved the Ford Pinto, and Ford was pleased they were keeping up in a time when overseas dealers were threating their very existence; that was of course until it was found out Ford had faulty design and ignored the safety test findings, which resulted in an estimated 500 deaths. The cause of the deaths became one of the biggest ethical issues Ford Motors has dealt with: cutting cost vs. human life. The Ford Pinto had a major design flaw, the gas tank. Consumers generally get concerned when you start placing possible explosive properties together. These properties are: fuel and an enclosed space such as your fuel tank in unsafe areas, which is understandable. The engineers that created the Pinto designed a fuel filter that would disconnect and allow fuel to spill everywhere in the event of an accident. To make matters worse they also placed the fuel tank behind the rear axles of the vehicle, which left very little room for error and increased the risk of possible puncturing of the tank from the differential and surrounding brackets in the event of a rear-end collision. Why you ask? More trunk space of course! The engineers who
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The moral issues about the Ford Pinto is that they take their profit is more important than human life. They also did not inform the consumer about the facts of the Pinto. Lastly, they also lobbied the safety of the car to lowest standard (Shaw, Barry & Sansbury 2009, pp 97-99).
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.
There are many different cases where people have been critically injured or have died from burn-related injuries from the ruptured the Pino gas tank. This case study specifically discusses the 1978 untimely deaths of Lynn Marie Ulrich, Dana Ulrich, and Judy Ann. Between 1971 and 1978, the Pinto was responsible for a number of fire-related deaths. It was the death of these teenagers that lead brought the controversy of the Ford Pinto’s faulty gas tank placement to a climax resulting in criminal homicide charges for the automaker. Ford’s CEO Henry Ford II and Ford’s new president Lee Iacocca were responsible for the launch of the Ford Pinto. To stay ahead of the growing competition, The Pinto was not to weigh over 2,000 pounds and not costs not to exceed $2,000. Ford officials knew that the Pinto represented a serious fire issue when struck from the rear, but were desperate to expedite the vehicle’s release, the Pintos timing was set just under 25 months. Tooling has already been kicked off, so when crash tests revealed a serious defect in the gas tank, it was too late for any design modifications. The tooling was well underway. Therefore, Ford’s president decided it would be too costly to make changes in the Pinto’s gas tank location pushing ahead with the original design which went unchanged for six years. Any changes to the low-cost Ford Pinto would result in an increased price, thus possibly making it less desirable by small car buyers. Iacocca understood that people shopping for compact cars were watching every dollar, One Ford engineer explained, “the process of elasticity on these subcompacts is extremely tight. You can price yourself right out of the market by adding $25 to the production cost of the model”.
The short story “The Death of Schillinger” was a story about a First Sergeant whom ruled over labor sector ‘D,’ a laboring portion of Birkenau which was formally known as the Auschwitz extermination camp. Schillinger was a short stocky man and was truly evil at his essence; “He visited the crematoria regularly and liked to watch people being shoved into the gas chambers.” (pp.144) One day in August of 1943, the SS were unloading a transport and preparing to load stripped Jews into the gas chambers. However, before this could be done Schillinger took a liking to one of the nude women and grabbed her out of line; she threw gravel in his eyes,
There are a few concerns about harmful behavior of the FMC that should be discussed. A behavior is harmful when it wrongfully sets back the interest of others and has a high risk of harm. Obviously, the gravity of harm in this case is very high being that it is life threatening. Once a consumer has purchased the Pinto and drives it off the lot he is at risk to getting rear ended, and burned to death by a car fire or explosion. Since the weight of this harm is very severe, the low probability of the consumer having an accident doesn’t discount Ford’s unethical behavior. Indeed, driving a Ford Pinto would place a consumer’s life at risk. Also at stake are the interests of Pinto passengers and drivers of other vehicles who certainly are not willing to risk their lives so Ford can make an extra buck. Everyone has an interest in not getting injured or killed. Setting back the interest of consumers isn’t the only thing Ford Motor Company was responsible for.
Ford executives were under a great deal of pressure to produce a smaller, more gas efficient automobile. Japanese and German automobile sales were rapidly increasing. These competitive forces drove Ford’s executive team to respond by rushing the design process of the Ford Pinto. By 1973, the Pinto was well into production when engineers discovered a flaw in the gas tank, which was located just under the rear bumper. They discovered that if the vehicle suffered a rear-end collision over 20 mph, the gas tank could break and spill gasoline into the passenger compartment, potentially resulting in a fire. The remedy for the flaw was a part that cost $11.00 per vehicle. Executives at Ford knew the company had followed all safety standards and regulations. At that time, automobile safety standards only needed gas tanks to withstand a collision under 20 mph. An internal cost-benefit analysis revealed the costs would be substantially higher to fix the design flaw that the costs associated with any potential damages due to collisions and loss of life. The public remained unaware until Mother Jones journalist, Mark Dowie broke the story in 1977. Fueled by the media, what followed was a frenzy of public outcry and court trials.
The Elkhart County Grand Jury took up the matter and filed a charge of criminal homicide against Ford, the Automobile American Corporation that designed the Pinto car models. According to Elkhart County Grand prosecutor, Michael A. Cosentino, Ford was guilty of reckless homicide, because the company committed a conscious, plain, and unjustifiable neglect of harm that positioned the gas tank in the rear end of the car without proven protection. Besides, Ford engaged in negligence and substantial deviation from the acceptable standards of conduct. The major focus of the case entailed the expanding and assessment of acceptable standards the company violated in the process of manufacture of Pinto cars.
The devised code of ethics plays a vital role in the deciding factor for the engineers. Thus, in the case of the Gee-Whiz Mark 2 (GWM2) having evidence that 25,000 units are not compliant with safety standards in North America or Europe shows that the public's security is in jeopardy. Complying to the first fundamental canon of the NSPE code of ethics for engineers states that, "engineers shall hold paramount the safety, health, and welfare of the public”. Sadly to say, the current products only put users at a much higher risk of electrocution and death. Thus, by the virtue of the fundamental canon, engineers at Gee-Whiz Mark 2 morally cannot distribute detrimental products to the public in any geographic location, even if the law permits. Taking Toyota Motors in 2009 as an example, where more than 680,000 vehicles were recalled in the United States alone, due to safety concerns of the airbags and the brake lights being defective (Valdes-Dapena, 2012 ). Even though this company could have disregarded the issue and continue to sell defective machines, they instead did what was morally right for the citizens and recalled the products. A product recall of thousands of units is not easy for any company, resulting in a multi-billion financial loss and the expenditure of sales time. Nonetheless, when someone’s life is at stake there is no choice but to resolve the emerged problem, no matter the loss that will be incurred by the
The means were limited design time and reducing costs. By cutting costs, Ford knowingly created a product which could prove dangerous and fatal to its consumers. Does Ford’s ends justify its means? Ford did create a sub-compact that sold extremely well and competed fiercely with foreign imports. The goal of the Ford Pinto was met. The costs of this win were substantial however. The money that Ford tried to save by not recalling the vehicle was spent when Ford recalled the Pinto, and extra was spent in compensatory and punitive damages in lawsuits. So the costs that Ford tried to avoid were incurred anyway along with extra.
The engineers have a duty to hold high standards of honesty, because their work affects the lives of people. If they allow the company to sell the faulty vehicles, the engineers will have failed to follow some of the fundamental canons of the code. By allowing this sale, the engineers are not considering the “safety, health and welfare of the public” (NSPE, 2007). With known knowledge that a driver is more likely to be electrocuted, lives are going to be at stake, regardless of what countries the vehicles will be sold in. The better move would be to scrap the product, take the loss, and plan concrete steps to avoid the issue in the future. In addition, the support of this sale does not enable engineers to conduct themselves ethically and in turn does not “enhance the honor, reputation, and usefulness of the profession” (NSPE, 2007). By not making safety a priority, the engineers appear unethical and they hurt the reputation of the
Ford’s biggest mistake was using the cost benefit analysis concept in this case especially, when they valued human life for $200,000. Human life is not measurable and can’t be used for cost- benefit analysis as it is priceless. In addition, company kept a secret of other options that could have been used to improve the fuel tank and with less cost. They gave the wrong computation of both cost and benefits to give justification at their
Christopher Nagel and David Cabrera presented the Ford Pinto rear-impact defect, with Christopher going first. He explained that the purpose of the Pinto was to compete in the automobile industry with its German and Japanese counterparts. It was a compact and inexpensive car that anyone would have been able to purchase. However, Christopher revealed that the Pinto had a major defect in its fuel compartment. A single impact at about 35mph resulted in a fiery explosion, which ultimately cut the Pinto’s career short. In addition, like Chernobyl, the engineers knew of the defect but remained silent in fear of losing their job. Christopher concluded with the ethics that an engineer needs to uphold as well as a few quotes from former engineers involved
There was strong competition for Ford in the American small-car market from Volkswagen and several Japanese companies in the 1960’s. To fight the competition, Ford rushed its newest car the Pinto into production in much less time than is usually required to develop a car. The regular time to produce an automobile is 43 months but Ford took 25 months only (Satchi, L., 2005). Although Ford had access to a new design which would decrease the possibility of the Ford Pinto from exploding, the company chose not to implement the design, which would have cost $11 per car, even though it had done an analysis showing that the new design would result in 180 less deaths. The company defended itself on the grounds that