While there are some good consequences from the action, such as the jobs that were provided to American employees producing the car, and the individuals provided with an affordable vehicle, these were far outweighed by the negative effects, such as the potential danger from the number of Americans riving the car, those that were actually harmed in crashes, and, eventually, the effects on the Ford employees themselves after their company gained bad publicity from the incident.
The fact that these negative consequences greatly exceed the positive ones shows that Ford acted unethically, and this is made all the more egregious by the fact that the company knew about the Pinto’s defect prior to release. Although some might argue that the company eventually attempted to recall the product, it took them seven years to do so, and only after they began to spend more resolving lawsuits than they had paved failing to install a protective baffle to begin with.
Therefore, the release of the F-rod Pinto was unethical, and serves as a cautionary tale for automobile manufacturers to this day. When attempting to determine whether the release of the defective Pinto was a moral one, it is important to know the stakeholders in this case, and how they were affected, either positively or adversely. To be sure, there were some positive effects from the release of the Pinto, at least for certain stakeholders for some time.
The rapid release of the Pinto into the market in 971 meant that consumers had more rapid access to a car that they could purchase for less than $2,000, and as the sass went on, having an affordable car with low gas mileage became even more important (Disgorge 298, Farley 16). The fact that around 2 million Pintos had been sold by the time that the company began to face criticism shows that for many Americans, these cars were an affordable driving option (Weinberg 45). Even today, some Pinto owners still value their vehicles for their mileage, although they note that they have had to repair them frequently (Farley 16).
The employees Of Ford and he shareholders in the company also benefited; for a time, the Pinto was one of the most popular Ford vehicles, and with a 40 percent market share for the vehicle, Americans were kept in automotive jobs, and the investors in Ford, along with the owners, were able to continue making profits. Unfortunately, however, these were not the only consequences of the Pinto’s release. The Ford Motor Company knew about the defect that gave the vehicle a potential to catch fire in rear-end collisions above 20 miles an hour, and even rejected putting a baffle in the vehicle for six years to correct he problem (Disgorge 298-299).
Therefore, the action must be assessed in terms of both potential and actual effects, because many of the executives in the company knew that they would eventually be facing some degree of problematic lawsuits and even fatal crashes. In releasing a vehicle to the public had the potential to catch fire, the company was potentially putting not only its 2 million buyers at risk, but also their passengers, and the individuals in the vehicles colliding with them, of being burned, injured, and killed from crashes that would normally only result in minor injuries (Weinberg 46).
As it happened, many people did become involved in fatal or fiery rear-end collisions, with 13 occurring between the years of 1976 and 1 977, although it seems that the public did not widely catch on to the fact that these Cars were at a greater risk of catching fire until Harley Coop, Ralph Ender, and various media sources reported the danger (Disgorge 299). There were a variety of other negative effects other than the danger to the American publics Pinto owners, as well, which also must be considered.
Ford had calculated that it would not spend more than 520. 9 million on accidental death and injury suits, but was paying more than $50 million by 1977, which was cutting into the profits of the company and impacting their ability to produce new vehicles (Disgorge 299). In 1 978, the company had to pay out $1 24 million to a single plaintiff for a similar charge, and awards against the manufacturer began to increase, making the decision to avoid the baffle ultimately unprofitable (Davis 136).
This had a disastrous effect on the Pinto’s market share, which plummeted to just 15 percent by 1 981, a decrease which represents a steady slide downward as the danger of the vehicles became ore well-known (Weinberg 45-46). Ford lost hundreds of millions of dollars in sales, and its brand reputation suffered, with many Americans opting for the seemingly safer cars of rivals, ultimately leading to declining stocks for shareholders and lost jobs for workers (Weinberg 46).
These negative effects were far greater in their extent than the positive effects that the vehicle’s release had, and in many cases, they affected the same individuals adversely in the end as had initially benefited from the Pinto’s sales, such as Ford employees and shareholders, undoing any good that the car had produced. Because the release of the Pinto created many more negative effects than positive ones, the knowing sale of a dangerous automobile must be concluded to be unethical.
However, there are some proponents of Ford’s behavior that note that the company eventually did try to rectify the action. In 1 978, the company recalled the Pintos in order to install a cheap baffle that would prevent the danger of rear-end collision fires from occurring, and that at that point, many people were still interested in purchasing Pintos (Disgorge 299). However, this does not make Ford’s actions any more unethical. As Harvey Coop had noted, engineers and executives knew about the defect in the vehicle for years, and took no action even after people began to be injured (Disgorge 299).
It was only after it became less profitable for the company to avoid putting the baffle in, due to lawsuits and lost sales, that it finally took action to protect consumers, or even to admit that the Pinto posed a danger to them, and even this action had to be prompted by the American government (Disgorge 299; Weinberg 45). Additionally, in 1 978, not all consumers were aware of the Pinto’s danger, as some never. H. s programs like 60 Minutes had not yet reported on it; after they did so, the Pinto’s sales began to drop even further, creating a large number of long-term problems for Ford’s branding and profits (Weinberg 45).
So, even though Ford had attempted to rectify its situation, it had to be forced into doing so by the government and consumers, and even the workers and shareholders that initially benefited from the Pinto ended up suffering. The use of utilitarian analysis of the Ford Pinto case study shows, quite clearly, that releasing the Pinto while knowing that it had a potentially ungenerous design flaw was an unethical action on behalf of the Ford Motor Company.