Professor: Jennifer Stiles
Applied Business Ethics
October 20, 2010
Launched in 1971, the Ford Pinto was a compact car. With the new Pinto, Ford was trying tocounter Japanese manufacturers, who offered affordable, efficient vehicles, by providing an economical alternative for the American buyer. The car was selling rapidly because of the major oil crisis.Though affordable and stylish, its power was limited.
The Ford Pinto had many technical failures. These failures were due to their short design time and the economical approach that Ford used whilemanufacturing the automobile. However, the rapid success the Pinto initially acquired soon dissolved into chaos. Rumors swirled that the car exploded and easily caught fire after the smallest collisions.Investigations showed that the Ford Pinto had two substantial problems, and to solve them, Ford had to redesign the car. However, Ford decided to keep the old design due to the expensive modificationsthe new design would require.
The Pinto suffered from two main flaws. First, the fuel tank was located in a dangerous position. Situated behind the rear axle, the tank could easily collide into therear bumper with the smallest shocks. As a result, the tank would break, creating a fire, or in some cases, an explosion. The second flaw stemmed from the makeup of the car’s body. The weak sheetmetal of the chassis left little protection for the fuel tank, which would be disrupted by the smallest of collisions. Furthermore, the weak metal would bend abnormally upon collision, causing the doorsto lock, trapping the passengers inside the vehicle.
The case presents multiple ethical dilemmas. To begin, Ford was saying things that were simply not true. They were promising an affordable andreliable car, when they knew about the potential problem the buyer would face while using the car. Second, they used their image as a façade. A reliable company, Ford manufactured cars that met...