By JOSEPH B. WHITE
Staff Reporter of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
SEDONA, Ariz. -- Ford Motor Co. is offering dealers and customers the
option of substituting Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. tires for standard
Firestone Wilderness AT tires on its 2001 Explorer sport-utility vehicles.
Company officials announced the new option
here during a product preview for the
redesigned 2002 Explorer in Sedona, Ariz.
Dale Claudepierre, Ford's compact sport-utilities
vehicle line director, said Ford is concerned that
consumers are resisting Firestone brand tires in
the wake of the recall of 6.5 million Firestone
Wilderness AT, ATX and ATX II tires.
The recall began in August after the National
Highway Traffic Safety Administration stepped
up an investigation into reports that the
Firestone tires suffered sudden tread
separations now linked by federal investigators
to 119 deaths in the U.S. and more than 40
Explorer sales skidded 16.4% in October, in
part because of consumer concerns about the
safety issues raised by the tire recall, and also
because of Ford production cuts.
Ford had previously said that when it launches
the 2002 Explorer early next year, it would offer dealers and consumers
a choice of Goodyear or Michelin tires instead of Firestone brand tires.
Bridgestone Corp., parent of Bridgestone/Firestone Inc., said last week
that sales of Firestone brand replacement tires in the U.S. fell 40% in
September and October.
Write to Joseph B. White at email@example.com