Essay on Managing Product Safety: the Ford Pinto

2017 Words 9 Pages
Facts

Around 1967 Ford Motor Company decided to design a small size car called the Ford Pinto. The automobile industry at the time (and still is) was highly competitive and very cyclical. In the late 1960's, America began to see the influences of foreign vehicles. Prior to that, cars were bigger and less fuel efficient, allowing the Japanese to gain substantial market share with the smaller, more economical vehicles, and the need to react to this pressure was even greater at Ford. Even though they held the number two spot in market share behind General Motors, they only held a 22.3% market share compared to General Motors at 46.4%, a very significant difference.

There was strong competition for Ford in the American small-car market
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Word got out about the Pinto gas tank problems, and soon this became a huge press-related issue for Ford. Management at Ford decided to do a risk/benefit analysis, but it determined that the amount of money made off the car was higher then the cost to pay the liability to those that got injured or killed. In the determination, management decided profit outweighed human life. The issues began with the lack of care Ford put towards the engineering process in pre-development, and the lack of conscience exhibited by the manufacturer when confronted with defective obstacles which could have delayed the production and cost millions of dollars, which in their mind was not an option.

The purpose of introducing the Ford Pinto was to gain market share in a highly competitive compact arena and remain profitable for the company to manufacture. As in this case, some ethics of design do not withstand the test of profit and safety. The best interest of the company was put first, without regard to the tragedy that might occur. During these years, the government was looking at the automobile industry as the last great unregulated industry, and had

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