Venezuela Consumer Agency Submits More Proof Against Ford Explorer
                    October 10, 2000

                    Associated Press

                    CARACAS, Venezuela -- Venezuelan authorities Monday said they have
                    new evidence that Ford Explorers and Bridgestone/Firestone tires have
                    design defects that may have been a factor in 46 fatal road accidents

                                         Meanwhile, Ford Motor Co.'s Venezuela unit
                                         stepped up a publicity campaign to convince
                                         Venezuelans that Explorers are safe and only
                                         Firestone tires are to blame for the accidents.

                    Samuel Ruh, the president of Venezuela's consumer protection agency,
                    said he handed over to the attorney general Monday new evidence of
                    defects in the Explorer's suspension system and shocks. He said he
                    also submitted new proof of flaws in the design of Firestone tires.

                    He declined to give details on the content of the new evidence, saying
                    he didn't want to obstruct the attorney general's investigation.

                    Tread separation, blowouts and rollover crashes involving vehicles with
                    Firestone tires have been linked to deaths in the U.S. and Venezuela.
                    Many of the crashes involved the popular Ford Explorer.

                    Both the automaker and the tire manufacturer have been criticized for
                    not immediately reporting problems or taking action at the first signs of

                    Ford released a television ad over the weekend in which the president of
                    the automaker's Venezuelan subsidiary, Emmanuel Cassigena, appeared
                    defending the safety of Explorers. The ad, aired by several local
                    networks, showed a pile of thousands of Firestone tires that Ford has
                    replaced on Explorers for free in a customer satisfaction program
                    started in May.

                    "You can have total confidence in your vehicle," Mr. Cassigena told
                    Venezuelans in the ad. "We won't rest until we have replaced all of the
                    defective tires."

                    Ford maintains that a manufacturing defect in Firestone's
                    Venezuela-made tires is to blame for "tread separation," which the
                    automaker says was the "common factor" in Explorer accidents here.

                    Bridgestone/Firestone, a unit of Bridgestone Corp., denies that the
                    Venezuelan-made tires are defective and has suggested that flaws in
                    the Explorer's suspension system may have caused the tread

                    The tire company hasn't issued a recall but has agreed to replace up to
                    62,000 mislabeled Venezuelan tires upon customer request. Tires
                    mislabeled as having an extra nylon safety layer will be replaced with
                    tires having the layer.

                    The consumer protection agency, Indecu, says both companies have a
                    "shared responsibility" for the accidents. The attorney general's office is
                    investigating both companies for criminal negligence.

                    Indecu's Mr. Ruh rejected Ford's argument that they were "deceived" by

                    "The more they insist to the public that they were misled, the more they
                    admit that they are responsible. ... If they were deceived it's simply
                    because their quality control [system] didn't function," Mr. Ruh said.