Ford started installing a new dual-clutch transmission (referred to as the DPS6 transmission) in its Focus and Fiesta models back in 2010 and as many as 1.5 million of the allegedly defective vehicles remain on the road today. The new transmission allowed the cars to reach 40 mpg, but according to recent allegations, Ford failed to properly test the new transmission before putting it out on the road, where it allegedly failed and put customers in danger.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, Ford allegedly ignored warnings from internal engineers and lawyers before putting the cars on the market, at which point the car company allegedly proceeded to ignore complaints from customers for more than five years.
According to complaints, the new transmission allegedly did everything from losing power on highways for no apparent reason to shoot into intersections without warning. Instead of issuing a recall, Ford allegedly gave its dealers talking points that included telling them the cars were operating normally when that was far from the truth.
The financial result of all this doesn’t look good for Ford. The company has had to spend hundreds of millions of dollars in repair costs, many of which didn’t actually fix the cars. In addition to having to litigate lawsuits from thousands of consumers, Ford has also lost a significant amount of business from many loyal fans who now say they will never buy another Ford. Combine that with word of mouth reports of the dangerous cars it let on the road, plus bad press, and it will be difficult for the company to recover financially from this mess. In fact, the company recently warned its investors that litigation over the new DPS6 transmissions poses a financial threat. According to an internal report by Ford, the total costs related to the new transmission could reach $3 billion by the end of next year.
Ford recently released a statement claiming it acted quickly once made aware of the problems, but that’s not what the evidence shows. Instead, the Free Press said it was able to review hundreds of pages of court filings and internal documents, including emails, from the past decade. They show concern from Ford engineers and managers over the dangers posed by the DPS6 transmission. They also analyzed complaints from consumers, which include more than 4,000 complaints about the transmissions being unreliable, including 50 accounts of injuries, which had previously gone unreported. So far, no deaths have been reported as being caused by Ford’s new transmissions.
Ford insists the cars are still safe because all the other safety features still work, but thousands of customers, consumer safety advocates, and a former Ford engineer all insist otherwise. Federal regulators looked into the matter in 2014 but decided not to launch a formal investigation or order a recall of cars with the DPS6 transmission.
Ford denies allegations that it defrauded American consumers, but on the other hand, it has already settled lawsuits involving similar claims in Australia and Thailand. Even though settlements normally exclude any admission of guilt, it might hurt their chances at success against their own customers in the U.S. courts.
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