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Ford shares data with Bridgestone/Firestone

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Ford Motor Co. finally met with Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. (BFS) yesterday, according to Ford CEO and President Jacques Nasser.

"Ford's research team met with Firestone's top management in Nashville to present the most recent analysis of Firestone Wilderness AT tires," he said in a press release. "This analysis is based on discussions with both Firestone and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and includes a review of the latest Firestone real-world data, competitive tire data and exhaustive laboratory and vehicle testing.

"Tomorrow, we plan to inform our customers, NHTSA and Congress of these findings concerning Firestone Wilderness AT tires and, importantly, our actions to address these issues."

Ford's concerns about other Firestone Wilderness AT tires not included in the tires recalled last year were leaked to the press last week. According to the Associated Press, BFS questioned Ford's decision to attack Firestone tires in the media without reviewing its data and analysis with the company first.

BFS Chairman, CEO and President John Lampe was reportedly "outraged" by Ford's actions, and sent a letter to Ford CEO Jacques Nasser telling him so. On Monday, BFS ended Firestone's 100-year relationship with Ford, promising only to fulfill any existing obligations.

According to Nasser, Department of Transportation data "demonstrates that for more than 10 years, Explorer consistently has ranked at or near the top in terms of safety among the 12 SUVs in its class. In addition, 2.9 million Goodyear tires on Explorers have performed with industry-leading safety for more than 500,000 customers and their families."

BFS data reports Ford Explorer claims rates are unusually high, at least compared to claims rates of the Ford Ranger pick-up truck. Both vehicles were shod with recalled size P235/75R15 Firestone Radial ATX and Wilderness AT tires.

"Ford Explorers have about five to 10 times the claim rates of Ford Rangers for the exact same tires," BFS officials say.

Ford has maintained that the design of its top-selling Explorer SUV had nothing to do with subsequent roll-over accidents that claimed more than 100 lives.

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