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Ford Pinto

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Ford's Risk/Benefit Analysis
The main controversy surrounding the Ford Pinto case was The Ford Motor Company's choices made during development to compromise safety for efficiency and profit maximization. More specifically, it was Ford's decision to use the cost/benefit analysis detailed in section 11 to make production decisions that translated into lost lives. During the initial production and testing phase, Ford set "limits for 2000" for the Pinto. That meant the car was not to exceed $2000 in cost or 2000 pounds in weight. This set tough limitations on the production team. After the basic design was complete, crash testing was begun. The results of crash testing revealed that when struck from the rear at speeds of 31 miles per hour or above, the Pinto's gas tank ruptured. The tank was positioned according to the industry standard at the time (between the rear bumper and the rear axle), but studs protruding from the rear axle would puncture the gas tank. Upon impact, the fuel filler neck would break, resulting in spilled gasoline. The Pinto basically turned into a death trap. Ford crash tested a total of eleven automobiles and eight resulted in potentially catastrophic situations. The only three that survived had their gas tanks modified prior to testing.55
Ford was not in violation of the law in any way and had to make the decision whether to incur a cost to fix the obvious problem internally. There were several options for fuel system redesign. The option most seriously considered would have cost the Ford Motor Company and additional $11 per vehicle.56 Under the strict $2000 budget restriction, even this nominal cost seemed large. In addition, Ford had earlier based an advertising campaign on safety which failed miserably. Therefore, there was a corporate belief, attributed to Lee Iacocca himself, of "safety doesn't sell."57
Ultimately, the Ford Motor...

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