Since the successful completion of the Research Safety Vehicle (RSV) Program which saw the building and testing of some 60 vehicles, the Department of Transportation (DOT) has been haunted by the specter of these vehicles which demonstrated that safe, fuel efficient cars could be built. In the 1970’s DOT was committed to demonstrating that fuel economy (CAFE) standards of 40-50 MPG could be met with cars that had 50 MPH crash protection, better than any car on the road today.
With 12 safety recalls to date and 7 defect investigations, the Ford Focus proved to be an embarrassment to Ford Motor Company and its President William Clay Ford, who was trying to stress quality in the wake of the Ford Explorer/Firestone ATX, Wilderness AT tire debacle. Not since General Motors introduced its ill-fated X-car in 1980 (Buick Skylark, Chevrolet Citation, Oldsmobile Omega and Pontiac Phoenix) which had 13 recalls in its first two years has a manufacturer had so many recalls.
STATEMENT OF CLARENCE DITLOW
CENTER FOR AUTO SAFETY
Before the SENATE COMMITTEE on COMMERCE, SCIENCE AND TRANSPORTATION
Washington DC, September 12, 2000