Case of the Ford Pinto

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Utilitarian Analysis
The Case of the Ford Pinto

The Ford Pinto first rolled off the Ford Motor Co. production lines in 1971 and stayed in production in its original state until 1978. The vehicle engineers were tasked to develop the vehicle and put it into production within 25 months, which was nearly half the time in which the average new vehicle is put into production. The Ford engineers were aware that rear-end impact safety tests were pretty standard at the time, but they were not required by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration at that time. The vehicle was rushed into production anyway to compete with foreign compact cars being developed by the Japanese during that time period. Only after the vehicle was made available to the public was the vehicle tested. The Ford Pinto ended up failing the rear safety test, due to the fact that it was susceptible to fire from rear end collisions. Ford engineers determined that the problem could be resolved by installing a baffle, which protected the gas tank from being punctured during rear-end collisions. The part would have only cost between $6.65 and $11 to be install, but the Ford Motor Co. determined through cost-benefit analysis that the cost of lawsuits would be less than the cost of installing the baffle and decided not to install the baffle. Ford Motor Co. also failed to notify customers of the problem and offer them the option to have the baffle installed. Between 1971 and 1978 the Ford Pinto would be involved in thirteen rear-end collisions that caused the vehicle to start on fire. The actions of the Ford Motor Co. were scrutinized for the production of the vehicle. (DeGorge)While the vehicle did meet the safety standards of the time, Ford Motor Co. knew of the problem and did nothing to resolve it. This leads us to the question the ethical actions of the Ford Motor Co. production of the Ford Pinto. After realizing there was a safety issue with the Ford Pinto, was it morally...
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