Death on the Highway: Quality Problems at Ford and Firestone

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On August 9, 2000, Bridgestone/Firestone, Inc. officially announced that it was recalling 6.5 million of its Wilderness AT tires, most of which had been installed on Ford's popular SUV, the Explorer. It was reported that Explorers equipped with Wilderness AT tires had been involved in a large number of rollover accidents on the USA high way leading to more than 170 deaths and over 700 injuries, and more than 40 deaths in the other countries. After August 2000, Ford announced a recall of more than 1 million Firestone tires on Explorers and in May 2001, Ford recalled more 13 million Wilderness AT tires installed on its SUVs and pickup trucks. The recalls resulted in hundred millions of financial loss to both Ford and Firestone. The poor quality leading to great losses of an organization demonstrates that Total Quality Management and Six Sigma play important roles in the production process. Six Sigma relies on statistical analysis to get to the root of intractable problems. Ford began training managers in the technique of Six Sigma in 2000 and the system had already produced results. However, Six Sigma needs to take time for the improvements to show up. If Ford implemented Six Sigma earlier, the tragedy of poor quality had not happened. 1. In addition to the financial costs mentioned, what are some of the other costs, both internal and external to the firms, that can be associated with poor quality of the Firestone tires and Ford Explorers? In addition to the financial costs, the brand reputation and market shares of the two firms suffered heavy losses. Both firms had to take great effort to restore their confidence in their brands. Rebuilding the brand recognition is crucial to increase the market share. It will take a few years to make pubic forget this tragedy, and the competitors will take the chance to occupy the market shares previously took by the Explorer. In the internal to the two firms, the morale of employees decreased due to the poor...
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