Case Study the Ford Pinto Fires

Case Study: The Ford Pinto Fires
Allen Hayes
May 10, 2010
Bob Brantley

Case Study: The Ford Pinto Fires
What Would You Do?
    In 1962 President John F. Kennedy gave a speech which laid the foundation for what would later be called The Consumer Bill of Rights. These rights were as follows:
  1. The right to safety
  2. The right to be informed
  3. The right to choose
  4. The right to be heard
      This was the setting in the late 1960s when Ford Motors developed the idea for the Ford Pinto.   Foreign automobile manufacturers dominated the small car market in the Unites States at this time. Ford designed and produced the Pinto in a time of a little less than two years instead of the usual three and a half years. The first production year was 1971.
    To meet the deadline for production, much testing was done concurrently. Out of eleven Pintos subjected to rear end collisions, eight failed the test. Only the three with baffles between the tank and bumper and a special interior tank lining met safety standards. The project was almost complete and it was not possible to make redesign revisions and meet the deadline for the release of the Pinto.            
    The car met with favor from the American public. It was not long before reports of leakage and explosions with the gas tank reached Ford. The problem was discussed and based on a cost/benefit analysis determined to be too costly to recall and repair. The value assigned to a human life was $200,000. The baffle which could repair the problem cost $11.00.
    Reports of fiery crashes and deaths continued until the media and government pressure came to a head in June 1978 when Ford recalled all Pintos built between 1970 and 1976.
    Based on utilitarianism, Ford’s decision to not implement a recall seemed the one that would benefit the most stakeholders with the least cost. This decision made the mistake of putting a financial value on human life and regarding life as a mere...