The Firestone Tire Controversy

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Case Details:

Case Code : BECG005
Case Length : 12 Pages
Period : 1991 - 2002
Pub. Date : 2002
Teaching Note : Available
Organization : Firestone tire company, NHTSA, NUTS
Industry : Automobile Industry
Countries : USA

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This case study was compiled from published sources, and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion. It is not intended to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. Nor is it a primary information source.

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“This is a test of character for Jac. He's been saying we are a consumer focussed company, and the way he handles this will determine his credibility going forward - both internally and externally.”

- A Ford insider, commenting on the Firestone tire controversy (Fortune, September 18, 2000).

“Firestone is dead brand driving.”

- Jack Trout, Consultant, Trout & Partners, a marketing strategy firm, commenting on Firestone's brand image after the tire recall.


In May 2000, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)1 in the United States (US) issued a letter to the Ford Motor Co. (Ford)2 and Firestone Inc. (Firestone)3 asking for information about the high incidence of tire failures on the Ford Explorer Sport Utility Vehicles (SUVs).

During July, Ford analyzed the data on tire failures. The analysis revealed that Firestone Radial 15 inch ATX and ATX II tires produced in North America and Wilderness AT tires produced at Decatur, Illinois Plant had very high failure rates with the treads peeling off. When the tires failed, the vehicle often rolled over and killed the occupants.

In August 2000, Firestone amid concerns over tread separation, accidents, injury and death announced a voluntary recall of all Radial ATX and ATX II and Wilderness AT tires.

The Firestone Tire Controversy - Next Page>>

1] The US Federal agency entrusted with powers to investigate safety defects in vehicles.

2] Ford was the second largest automobile manufacturer in the world.

3] Firestone Inc based in Nashville, Tennessee, US was the largest subsidiary of Bridgestone Corporation of Japan, the world's largest tire and rubber manufacturer. Bridgestone/Firestone Inc manufactured Bridgestone, Firestone, Dayton and other private brand tires.


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