Ford Pinto Ethical Evaluation

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Date Submitted: 08/22/2011 08:00 PM

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The Impact of the Ford Pinto Case on Ethical Standards in Business

Ford Motor Company was unaware that the decision of Lee Iacocca, along with his executive and production teams, to shorten the production time of the Ford Pinto, would lead to facing charges for criminal misconduct and murder. Ford created its Pinto model, in the American market, to battle with smaller model cars, which were manufactured in Japan and Germany. In 1971, Lee Iacocca, against the advice of the former president of Ford, Semon Knudsen, decided to ignore typical engineering and production protocol to introduce their new small model car into the market quickly.

During the production of auto vehicles, legislation requires that manufacturers are submit their car models to crash testing. This is the point when Ford realized that the fuel tank was faulty and required redesign; yet ignored the test results that would have required them to redesign and remanufacture the car. The company would have to make design changes to the trunk of the vehicle, which would result in a smaller trunk and affect the sale of the vehicle. Iacocca believed that if they reduced trunk capacity, fewer people would purchase the car. “Safety doesn’t sell.”

Ford had the opportunity to correct the problem yet when they completed its cost analysis. Recalling the already produced vehicles and correcting any vehicles, still in production, was too high a cost. In 1973, “Ford’s recall coordinator received field reports suggesting that Pintos were susceptible to “exploding” in rear-end collisions at very low speeds (Trevino, 117). After viewing these reports, Dennis Gioia, their new recall coordinator, was still “lacking evidence of a systemic problem, [he]...