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Ford's Big Mistake Angers Owners And Costs Billions

Lawsuit

Here's a lesson on what not to do ever again.

This all dates back to 2010. At the time, Ford earned wide praise for its foresight to protect itself from the economic meltdown now known as the Great Recession. General Motors and Chrysler weren’t so fortunate. Because its financial future was secure, Ford embarked on a massive lineup overhaul by replacing big and thirsty SUVs and trucks, specifically the Ranger, for smaller and far more economical passenger cars. The subcompact Fiesta sedan and hatchback played a key role along with the redesigned Focus. Ford wanted to prove to America that small cars, particularly the Fiesta, were of equal quality to larger vehicles and one way to prove that was investing in premium features, including a state-of-the-art six-speed dual-clutch transmission. Along with faster shift times, this DCT contributed to excellent fuel economy.

Today, Ford is probably regretting this choice. Automotive News has a new report that provides an update about the headaches this DCT continues to cause.

In short, there have been long-term reliability problems. Despite its best efforts, Ford still issued over 20 technical service bulletins and even extended the transmissions’ warranty by two years and 40,000 miles. There has also been litigation, including a potential $4 billion lawsuit. In 2017, Ford reached a settlement over a class-action lawsuit covering 1.9 million owners, but that settlement is being challenged in federal court in California because some feel not enough owners received compensation. Another suit is pending in Michigan.

In fact, former Ford CEO Mark Fields is being forced to testify by the end of this month in a series of related cases. This issue also extends outside of the US. Last year, Ford lost another class-action suite in Thailand. It was also fined $10 million by an Australian court. Even before the litigation began, Ford’s DCT problems were almost immediate.

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In 2011, for example, poor DCT reliability played a huge part in Ford’s drop to the No. 20 spot in Consumer Report’s reliability survey. The previous year it was ranked at No. 10. By extending the transmissions’ warranty, Ford seems to have made it clear it didn’t have a permanent fix. The fact that Fields will soon be testifying could produce some interesting findings. He was president of the Americas when these vehicles went on sale and he signed off on the transmission’ production readiness. Quite clearly, they were undeveloped and extremely faulty. Ford continues to live with the consequences.

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