KUGA SUVS ON FIRE: A screengrab shows a Ford Kuga on fire along the R43 close to Hermanus in the Western Cape. Image: YouTube
Cape Town – Owners of other models of the Ford Kuga say their vehicles have also caught fire, challenging the vehicle manufacturer's claims that only one version of the car has a fault that could result in it bursting into flames.
The National Consumer Commission (NCC) on Thursday confirmed it had received complaints from owners of the Ford Kuga 2.5l Turbo and the Ford Kuga 1.5l EcoBoost.
"We assess and process the complaints on an individual basis," said NCC spokesperson Trevor Hattingh.
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This follows Ford's announcement on Monday that it was recalling 4 556 Kuga 1.6l EcoBoost models produced between December 2012 and February 2014.
Ford CEO Jeff Nemeth said the fires were due to overheating caused by engine coolant not circulating properly.
On Thursday Ford reiterated that the recall only applied to the Kuga 1.6l.
At least 39 incidents reported
"No other models or engine derivatives are affected. No other incidents have been reported to us," spokesperson Rella Bernardes told News24.
The safety recall comes after at least 39 incidents of Ford Kuga units catching fire locally, leaving one person dead.
Reshall Jimmy, 33, was killed when his Kuga caught fire in Wilderness, Western Cape, in December 2015.
After the recall the family's lawyer Rod Montano announced they would be pursuing a class action-type lawsuit against Ford.
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He confirmed on Thursday that he had received two complaints from owners of Ford cars not part of the recall.
These would be added to his case load.
"As far as I hear, there are also two Ford Figos that set alight. One reported in the media [in Nelspruit] and one that I heard about in central Johannesburg this morning."
He said that while the court documents for the complaints would be handed in together at some stage, each matter would still be dealt with on its own merits.
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The recall of the 1.6l model did not prevent them from submitting complaints for other models or engine variants.
"Ford hasn't done their homework and they don't know what cars are involved. All other drivers are at risk," claimed Montano.
"We are not restricted by Ford's version of events."
Some Kuga owners claimed on Facebook that Ford dealerships were reluctant to accept their vehicles for trade-ins or were offering far less than the retail value.
In response, Bernardes said: "Every Ford customer has our assurance that each individual case will be dealt with on its merits, and customers will be treated fairly at all times."
Opportunistic criminals had seemingly not missed out on a chance to benefit from the recall.
The SA Insurance Bureau shared on its Facebook page on Wednesday that someone contacted a Ford Kuga owner recently to say the manufacturer would collect their car as part of the recall.
"A young male, claiming to be 'Wayne' arrived as organised and collected the car. However the client then became suspicious and contacted Ford who knew nothing about the agreement, the client then immediately contacted Tracker," said the bureau.
Tracker recovered the vehicle without the suspect.