ford motor company has taken a dangerous step backward in their present policy regarding the fire integrity of their crown victoria, lincoln town car and mercury grand marquis. (remember the pinto gas tanks?)
their present stance is one copied from general motors 1973-87 side-saddle gas tank pickups. namely one that resembles -- 'it ain't broke if we don't say its broke.'
scary is the fact that the national traffic safety administration (nhtsa) fails to bring them up short, again following the path of the gm side-saddle gas tank pickups. if these folks don't do their job of regulating and watch-dogging for us, then who can do it?
thus far, 18 police officers have been killed in rear-end collisions where fires have erupted involving the crown victorias. after a poor response from both nhtsa and ford, some police departments began, on their own, outfitting police cars with safety shields to protect the gas tanks.
then, "the company took a further step deciding to offer fire suppression systems in the 2005 model of its police interceptors, the kinds of systems typically found in armored personnel carriers. the automaker said it was simply making a safe car safer." (see detroit free press, ford insists cars safe, but cops keep dying, by jennifer dixon, free press staff writer.)
could this possibly be because police departments threatened to boycott the purchase of ford vehicles if the company did not address the problem seriously? and where does this leave the average consumer? in very much the same boat as the gm pickup truck debacle. hung out to dry, hoping that you are not in a collision that could take your life -- not by the collision -- but by the ensuing flames caused by a ruptured gas tank.
general motors paid out $495 million in a serious of lawsuits over fiery crashes in their ck pickups. a problem that they felt would cost less to ignore and stonewall (and pay as they went for the lives they shattered) than to fix. they were wrong! they are still wrong! and ford should be well advised to take note of their problem and handle it accordingly.
note: entire article and other relevant articles may be found at http://www.autosafety.org