Windhoek – Most vehicle dealerships in Windhoek are reluctant to trade in the recently recalled Ford Kuga 1.6 which has been plagued with overheating problems and in some cases have caught fire. Ford recently recalled the Kuga after about 40 vehicles caught fire in South Africa. The company blamed a faulty cooling system for the spate of engine fires, saying it will replace the affected components under the recall. It is estimated that 100 vehicles in Namibia have been recalled.
Two out of three second-hand car dealerships contacted in Windhoek said they would not consider trading in the Kuga, with one dealership asking to see the vehicle before making a decision. “We will not consider trading in the Kuga because that vehicle is a difficult sell,” said one second-hand car salesman preferring anonymity. “We have already bought our cars for January,” said a salesman from another dealership. Only one dealer said they would consider a trade-in, but only after thorough inspection, which is usually the case with any trade-in.
Issues with the Ford Kuga 1.6 came to the fore in December 2015 when Reshall Jimmy died when his 1.6-litre EcoBoost Ford Kuga caught fire in the Western Cape. More than 50 Kugas have caught alight across South Africa while two more caught fire in Swaziland and Botswana.
A Kuga 1.6 local owner, also preferring to remain anonymous, said her 2014 vehicle only has 27 000km on the clock and she took it in to Novel Motor Company on Friday last week.
“They managed to give me a small rental car but they could not say how long my car will have to stay with them,” said the concerned motorist. Official comment is still awaited from Novel Motor Company, which initially responded that their dealer principal has to provide feedback to questions sent by New Era.
Ford Kuga owners are now scrambling to determine if their vehicles still hold any value as the global motoring giant scrambles to calm the storm over burning cars that have plunged it into a public relations disaster. Ford is also facing a flood of criticism, questioning why it was so slow to act after having ordered a recall in the United States after just 11 cars had caught fire.
Ford’s safety recall of 4 556 1.6-litre EcoBoost Kugas has extended beyond South Africa with reports that 100 Kugas were being recalled in Namibia and 30 in Botswana.
“With this safety action and proper maintenance of the engine coolant system, including using the approved coolant at the required concentration level, the vehicles are safe to drive.
However, every Ford customer has our assurance that each individual case will be dealt with on its merits, and customers will be treated fairly at all times,” read a statement by Ford.
The manufacturer insists the fires affect only the 1.6-litre EcoBoost Kuga but news reports revealed other models were affected, including the 1.5-litre EcoBoost, which replaced the 1.6-litre model.
Asked why Ford South Africa only ordered a recall after 39 cars had combusted when there was a recall in the US after 11 cars had caught alight, Ford South Africa CEO Jeff Nemeth said: “We can only act on the data that we have.” On whether Ford should have responded more quickly, Nemeth said: “In hindsight, yes, it seems like we should have acted quicker.”