Evaluating the Ford Pinto Case by taking an ethical approach, makes judging the decisions made on a cost-benefit analysis difficult. Cost-benefit analysis puts a price on human life and compares it to the cost of a something else. To judge this case, a look at separate consequences must be made, weighing the good and bad results of an action on everyone affected by it (DeGeorge, 2010, p. 44). Ford’s production of the Pinto was not done in an illegal manner. However, Ford ignored morally relevant events that ultimately led to the Pinto’s controversial safety record.
Ford Motor Company CEO, Lee Iacocca, was concerned about losing market sales to smaller Japanese imports. Therefore, he ordered Ford to produce a new car line in an accelerated manner, which ultimately led Ford to cut testing on the vehicles that would normally be done prior to the completion of the new line. However, by decreasing the timeline by which most new vehicles adhere to, the machining of the car parts and the crash testing was done simultaneously. When the safety tests revealed a serious defect in the gas tank, it was too late.
Iacocca had instructed that the new Ford Pinto was to weigh no more than 2,000 pounds and that the price would be less than $2000. When Iacocca wanted a new vehicle produced for 1971, he gave design, styling, testing and planning 25 months. This part of the car design is flexible and can be done at the same time. The 18 months that Iacocca cut from the timeline was the set amount of time that tooling takes. Tooling is the process of acquiring the manufacturing components and machines needed for production (Rouse, 2014). This meant that tooling had to start 7 months after the initial conception and de...
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...s using their own cost-benefit analysis. Knowing the dangers of the Pinto was outweighed by the acquisition of adequate transportation at an affordable price which showed that the consumer was willing to disregard the danger.
The Ford Pinto was comparable to other subcompact cars in almost every aspect except for the rear impact safety. Had Ford addressed the car’s rear-impact fire fatalities, the car would have been safer, which meant the same for consumers. Interestingly enough, Ford initiated a voluntary recall only days before the NHTSA was to issue a formal recall order. At that moment, Ford feared escalating backlash and additional damage to the company’s reputation. In conclusion, Ford had many opportunities to act ethically, instead they produced the Pinto unchanged from 1971 to 1978 and lobbied against the regulation of safety design in Washington.
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