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Reflections on the Pinto Fire

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Reflections on the Pinto Fires Cases

The demand for small compact automobiles was becoming competitive. In an effort to compete with foreign competition in the small automobile market Ford Motors began selling the Ford Pinto in 1970. Lee Iacocca was the brains behind the Pinto, due to his success with the Ford Mustang. He believed in order to compete Ford had to design the smaller automobile. Iacocca fought diligently to manufacture the Pinto with the support of Henry Ford II, the CEO of Ford Motor Company. Time was of the essence in Iacocca's eyes and he wanted the car in the showrooms by 1971. Iacocca's marketing strategy was to produce the Pinto and it was not to weigh over 2,000 pounds and not cost a cent over $2,000.

Iacocca's requirements for the design of the car were inflexible. He wanted the Pinto manufactured as quickly as possible and in 18 months, whereas normal production time for manufacturing was over three years. Normally, in the three year design and manufacture time period the auto would be perfected. Because of the expedition of time mistakes were made, discovering that when the crash test was performed the fuel tank of the Pinto was faulty. When the Pinto was rear-ended the impact would cause the fuel tank to rupture causing fire and the Pinto to explode. In order to correct it would cause delays and it would not only cost to change out the fuel tank but would delay the time the Pinto would get to the showroom. Closer testing revealed that the Pinto when they reached an average speed of 31 miles per hour and were in a rear end collision the fuel tank always ruptured. In order to correct it would delay the showroom deadline and fuel tank would have to be changes and Iacocca would have to reinforce the design. These tests were performed according to the Federal Motor Vehicle safety standards 301 that were proposed in 1968 by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Not too much attention was shown to the NHTSA because the organization was not formally implemented until the 1977 model were out.

Ford Motors ignored the testing and continued manufacturing the Pinto with the fuel tank imperfections. This would prove to be the biggest mistake Ford would make in that the Pinto was sold causing numerous rear end crashes resulting in catastrophic damage and deaths due to the fuel tanks explosions.

Limited amount of funds is the primary factor due to at the beginning from the thought of the product line; the company prepared a cost analysis and profit analysis before the production of the car. When Ford's executives did a price study and determined that the price of repairing the defect contrasting to any lawsuits; it would be cheaper to compensate for the lawsuits that would occur. The Pinto case study proves that fast assessment, cash, purpose, point in time, and goals were the primary issues surrounding the

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