It all started with ‘a weird noise in the engine’.

In 2014, the Fire Protection Association of South Africa have reported more than 2,000 vehicles igniting, with an average of 6 per day.

Ford Kuga has placed itself on South Africa’s fire brigade watch list this year, with consistent reports of the SUV’s 1.6-litre variant bursting into flames – giving Kuga owners just enough time to make a jump before drowning in flames.

Another reported fiery outburst came from Ford’s 1.5-litre EcoSport model variant. Social media enthusiasts have been urging Ford owners to return their vehicles, therefore not deeming the models but the Ford brand itself.

After over 50 incidences of fire lights and being positioned under the spotlight of the National Consumer Commission, Ford has reached out to more than 4,500 Kuga model owners to return their car for compulsory re-checks. Ford discovered that the blazes were caused by an overheating – causing cracks in the engine cylinder head and oil leaks.

So, what is Ford’s ‘urgent’ solution?

Apart from offering courtesy vehicles, Kuga and EcoSport owners have been urged to check their indicator lights every day. Although facing a major brand crisis and PR catastrophe, Ford is trying to reconcile with its audience. However, the only way to do this is with a ‘crisis plan’. This mean surging PR and marketing strategies to restore consumer trust; consistent transparency about legality; and setting up dedicated helplines before consumers run to social media.

With a depreciation in new car sales for the models, Ford needs to act as Smart as the Kuga’s technology promises and as fast as the EcoSport’s drivetrain, in order to retain its reputation.

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