The National Consumer Commission has completed a month’s long investigation into the Ford Kugas which were catching fire over the last few years.

As a result of the investigation, Ford Motor Company of South Africa (FMCSA) has been handed an administrative fine totalling R35 million.

The NCC said at a media briefing on Friday that Ford had engaged in prohibited conduct by distributing Kuga vehicles that failed or could have failed should the vehicles cooling system malfunction.

“This means that the failure of the cooling system rendered the vehicles not suitable for the purpose for which they were generally intended for and this resulted in the vehicles being unsafe,” acting NCC commissioner Thezi Mabuza said.

The NCC said that 56 Kuga vehicles had caught fire, 160 consumer complaints had been logged and 4 566 Kuga 1.6L vehicles had been recalled. The acting NCC commissioner said that Ford had acknowledged it was liable for the damage caused in terms of section 61(1)(b) of the Consumer Protection Act.

In addition to the fine, Ford has offered customers affected by the fires three avenues of compensation.

The first option is a payout of R50 000 to owners (or those in lawful possession of the vehicle) who had their Kuga catch fire. Taking this route has one important caveat though.

“The payment of the said sum will, should the consumer elect to accept it, be in full and final settlement of all claims that the consumer may have against FMCSA as a result of the damaged or recalled Kuga vehicles,” Mabuza said.

That means if you take the payout you cannot take legal action against Ford at a later date for the same matter.

The second option is for those who believe they are owed more than R50 000. In this regard customers can submit a claim against Ford in terms of the Consumer Protection Act.

The final option is to reject the first two options and lawyer up. In this regard a customer would have to prove damages are in excess of the offered amount.

“The commission will communicate with the individual consumers who filed their complaints with the commission to determine the route they elect and provide any guidance should they so require on the claims process,” Mabuza concluded.

[Source – SA News]