The ford pinto case study summary

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Contents:
  1. Ford Pinto Case
  2. The Pinto Memo: ‘It’s Cheaper to let them Burn!’
  3. Professionalism/The Ford Pinto Gas Tank Controversy
  4. The Ford Pinto
  5. ETHICS CASE STUDY: FORD PINTO by Nandita Gupta on Prezi

High gas prices, narrow roads, and population dense areas in midth century Europe and Japan required foreign brands to design more fuel-efficient, compact models. Volkswagen's "Think small" initiative increased sales of its Beetle, and the Toyota Corolla's advertised low price appealed to middle class customers. This car was Ford's attempt to obtain a respectable share in the subcompact market. Iacocca set the Pinto's delivery date to 25 months, cutting the typical delivery time nearly in half.

Ford engineers chose to place the fuel tank at the back of the car, directly between the rear bumper and rear axle. This fuel tank placement was common for domestic and foreign cars at the time, and was considered a conservative choice compared to the untested above-axle design. However, the potential dangers of this placement were exacerbated by other decisions made in the design process. Due to Iacocca's cost constraints, the walls of the fuel tank were exceptionally thin. The fuel tank design also incorporated four poorly arranged bolts, which protruded from the rear differential directly adjacent to the tank.

Sparks into this leakage had a high chance of ignition, culminating in fatal consequences.

Ford Pinto Case

Harley Copp, a lead Ford test engineer, was a whistle blower during the Pinto's testing phase. In the later trials, he claimed the Pinto was "grossly inadequate and the weakest I've seen in cars for the last 10 to 12 years". While driving, the car stalled and was then rear-ended. Upon impact, the Pinto's fuel tank ruptured, leaking fuel which then ignited. The Pinto caught fire, burning Gray to death and leaving Grimshaw with severe injuries.

The trial itself was closely covered by the media and surrounded by rumors and misinterpreted facts. The breakdown of the risk-benefit analysis is as follows:.

The Pinto Memo: ‘It’s Cheaper to let them Burn!’

For starters, while calculating the benefits, Ford claimed that the incidence of burn injuries would equal the incidence of burn deaths. In reality, experts say that the ratio between burn injuries to burn deaths would be a much larger Additionally, Ford received flak for their low value of the human life. At the time, several third-party companies had proposed quick and cheap fixes to Ford. For instance, Goodyear proposed a rubber bladder that would completely encase the fuel tank, preventing leakage in the event of a fuel tank rupture.

This inflation of the unit cost consequently inflated the total cost of the risks. Thus, if Ford had heightened the likeliness of burn injuries occurring, had increased their value for human life, and had used a cheaper unit cost of the repair fix, then Ford's risk-benefit analysis would have indicated that it would be more cost effective to implement the repairs than to risk human life. While each of these individual critiques irked the public, what ultimately led to the heavy media coverage and public outcry was Ford's valuation of human life in its risk-benefit calculations. Prior to the release of the Pinto memo in the Grimshaw v.

When this practice was revealed, the American public was shocked by its morbid nature.

Professionalism/The Ford Pinto Gas Tank Controversy

After all, is not human life priceless? Ultimately, the Pinto memo instigated the debate over the assignment of a dollar value to the human life. While the controversy behind the use of the value of human life in risk-benefit analysis still persists, it has become not only a common practice but an expected practice. In fact, most federal agencies actually require companies to carry out risk-benefit analysis using their predetermined values of human life. For instance, the Food and Drug Administration requires pharmaceutical companies to conduct risk-benefit analysis on the safety of their drugs; the Environmental Protection Agency requires chemical companies to conduct risk-benefit analysis on the extent of the effects of their air pollution.

Today, the controversy surrounding its usage does not revolve around its ethical implications, but around the precise dollar amount assigned to the human life.

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The debate asks: how exactly we are to determine this monetary value? Are some lives worth more than others? Is the college graduate worth more than the high school drop-out? The calculus of negligence , also known as the hand rule, is a formula designed to determine whether a legal duty of care has been breached.

In this formula, B is the burden the cost of taking precautions to prevent a harmful outcome or loss , P is the probability of the harmful outcome, and L is the financial magnitude of the loss. If the probability of a loss multiplied by the magnitude of the loss is higher than the cost required to prevent the loss, one is required to take the necessary actions to prevent the loss. The precedent of using the calculus of negligence as a legal standard was set in the ruling of United States v.

Carroll Towing Co. In this case, the United States had a load of flour aboard a barge, the Anna C.

The Ford Pinto

The court ruled that Connors Marine Company was responsible in part, due to their absent barge attendant, who should have been on the Anna C. The preventative action that Connors should have taken having the barge attendant on board was decided to be less than the probability of the accident multiplied by the gravity of the accident. The probability of loss was considered high since it occurred in a busy harbor during wartime, and the magnitude of loss was very large. Future investigations would put Ford in hot water for their actions related to the Pinto.

If this legislation passed, it would have necessitated a change in the Pinto design. Ford lobbied to delay this legislation and succeeded in delaying it for two years. Ford managers voted to delay a fix for new models until it was legally required. Not long after the Grimshaw case concluded, Ford was headed back to the courtroom. Although the charges were dropped, this was the first time ever that a company faced criminal charges in a product liability case. This is certainly indicative of the public anger at Ford's seemingly callous attitude toward its customers' safety.


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In addition to the two higher profile cases, Ford faced over lawsuits related to the rear-end accidents in the Pinto. Worried about plagiarism? Read this. Help Login Sign Up.

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ETHICS CASE STUDY: FORD PINTO by Nandita Gupta on Prezi

The creation of Sarbans Oxley in was reactionary legislation passed after thousands of investors lost unimaginable amounts of money Soxlaw. After a long class action court case, The Americans with Disabilities Act was created in after hundreds of citizens that possessed physical disadvantages sued several large corporations for discrimination ADA. Unfortunately laws and regulations are created in reaction to unethical practices.

In the case of the Ford Pinto, new regulations were not formulated, however it caused companies to become more socially conscience with the products they manufacture and sell. Henry Ford II was faced with an enormous amount of pressure.

Case: Ford Pinto

Ford II was attempting to step out of the shadow of his father and needed to make a company defining decision.