‘Fatal Kuga fire not caused by coolant system problem’

Jeff Nemeth says experts and Ford came to the same conclusion. And that the fire in which Jimmy died was not caused by the coolant system problem that led to the recall.

FILE: President and CEO of Ford Motor Company Southern Africa Jeff Nemeth (right). Picture: GCIS.

CAPE TOWN - The president and CEO of Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa says the fire that caused Reshall Jimmy’s death was not caused by the same problem that sparked a safety recall of over 4,500 1.6 litre Ford Kugas.

Jeff Nemeth says experts called in by both Jimmy’s family and Ford came to the same conclusion.

Nemeth defended the Kuga and his company when he appeared before Parliament’s trade and industry committee on Tuesday.

But he acknowledged the company had not handled the recall as well as it could have.

The CEO has defended the time it took before the company launched the safety recall in January.

“Recalling vehicles before a full understanding of the technical and operating environment could result in identifying the wrong population of vehicles or failing to properly remedy the issue.”

Nemeth says the fire in which Jimmy died was not caused by the coolant system problem that led to the recall.

“Every expert, both Ford’s and those engaged by Mr Jimmy’s family, have concluded that the fire his vehicle experienced was caused by a different issue than the one that led to this recall.”

Nemeth says ford is continuing to co-operate with police, the Jimmy family and its lawyer to investigate the incident.

Of the 4,556 ford Kugas recalled, 63% have been dealt with, while about 360 customers opted for trade-ins.

At the same time, Ford South Africa says the safety of its customers is its top priority.

Nemeth says of the Kugas recalled, 3,200 have been checked, while 2,700 have been serviced and returned to their owners.

“We recognise that we have an obligation to earn the trust of the country and the citizens every single day. Among these responsibilities, there is none we take more seriously than the safety of our customers.”

(Edited by Winnie Theletsane)