Pretoria – Thirty-one formal claims relating to Ford Kuga fires have been handed to the National Consumer Commission (NCC), a lawyer representing Reshall Jimmy’s family said on Tuesday.
Jimmy, 33, was killed when his Kuga caught fire in Wilderness, Western Cape, in December 2015.
Speaking at the National Press Club in Pretoria, attorney Rod Montano said they had handed over the claims on Monday morning. Complaints from other victims were still being collected.
Montano said the Jimmy family had instructed him to help George police investigate their relative’s death.
Not a proper recall
Jimmy’s sister Renisha had opened a Facebook page for victims of Ford Kuga fires and Montano had used that to get in contact with them.
“Contact has been made with them and I have been instructed to act on their behalf in bringing a class action against Ford,” Montano said.
Renisha said she was disappointed with the safety recall Ford had announced on Monday.
“It is not a proper recall that they have done. I don’t see very much of a difference of what they have done over the period of December. They should have taken these cars off the road.”
Ford CEO Jeff Nemeth said on Monday that Kuga owners could bring their cars to their dealer for repairs and to have the onboard computer system updated. The recall affected 4 556 Kuga 1.6l Ecoboost models produced between December 2012 and February 2014.
He said the fires were due to overheating caused by engine coolant not circulating properly. A total of 39 cases had been reported.
Nemeth advised drivers that they should pull over and switch off the car if there were any indications that the engine was overheating.
Consumers still at risk
In December 2016, the automaker released a statement after a Kuga 1.6 Ecoboost SUV burst into flames.
It notified owners that it was investigating reports of engine fires in that model and asked owners to take their cars to their dealer for a maintenance check.
NCC commissioner Ebrahim Mohamed told reporters in Pretoria that a product that posed any risks to consumers should not be on the market.
He said that, in early December 2016, a Ford employee had alerted the NCC to cases of drivers who had had life-threatening experiences with their Kugas.
However, the NCC had not received any complaints from individuals. He said over the past few weeks, the NCC had noted with concern reports of more engine fires, and that consumers were still at risk.