Ford Motor Company brags about not taking a government bailout. But this is as deceptive as their advertising about “good quality.” Ford had quality that was an international disgrace. They hired Dr. W . Edwards Deming, a renowned quality expert to help them build quality cars. But he walked out in disgust and called top management at Ford “the worst he had ever seen.”
Then Ford paid Toyota consultants to advise them on building quality vehicles. But this took time. Years, in fact. People were being burned to death in rear end collisions in Fords. People were being run over by defective Ford transmissions. American car buyers were abandoning Ford in droves to purchase reliable, quality cars, such as Toyotas, Hondas, and VWs. Ford showrooms were empty, they were packed with inventory they could not sell, and Toyota and VW dealers were simply taking orders. At one point there was a two month wait to buy a VW. Ford Motor Company became the only corporation in history to be charged with reckless homicide.
Then the government issued the largest recall in automotive history to Ford Motor Company, recalling 23,000,000 vehicles for defective transmissions that killed 200 people and injured more than 1400. We were just pulling out of a severe recession, and President Reagan had just been sworn in.
The CEO of Ford went to Reagan and said if you make us recall virtually every Ford on the road, we will have to file bankruptcy. No company can withstand the recall and repair of 23,000,000 vehicles.
President Reagan did not want to go down in history as the president who took down Ford Motor Company. At the time it looked like Chrysler would also file bankruptcy. Reagan revoked the authority of the federal government to issue mandatory recalls. They could issue “safety advisories” but not recalls. Instead, Ford agreed to mail out, via U.S. Mail, 23,000,000 stickers to put on Ford dashboards warning people that the transmissions in their cars could cause injury or death.
I worked at the transmission plant that made many of the faulty transmissions, with the full knowledge of top management at Ford. When people were burned to death and killed by cars jumping into reverse, I decided to one day write a book about how those transmissions were made, and how Ford runs auto plants. A Savage Factory is now on the market. I am amused, but hardly surprised, that Ford continues to be one of the most deceptive American corporations by bragging about not taking a government bailout, when, in fact they would have been bankrupt 35 years ago if the government had not ignored horrible deaths and injuries and bailed out Ford from its own incompetent management.