Although the Pinto was initially hugely popular in USA, its sales fell dramatically due to a controversy surrounding the safety of its gas tank. During the release of the vehicle, Ford engineers and executives gave approval to launch it knowing that it had an extremely high potential to explode upon low-speed rear impact collisions. Ford could have the chance to prevent this situation, but the company realized that the cost for modifying or retooling the assembly line would be greater than the lawsuits that would result from potential accidents.
They tried to justify their decision through cost-benefit analysis approach which determined it was cheaper to sell the cars without replacing it with a safer gas tank. This can be clearly related with the application of utilitarianism theory in terms of ethical theories. Therefore Ford Pinto case is an example of cost-benefit analysis and subsequently utilitarianism at its worst. Ford used the cost-benefit analysis approach in order to determine when and how to launch the newly designed Pinto. Thus, the Ford Motor Co. ttempted to compare the utility of the product (car) to the value of human life. It caused hundreds of deaths, serious harms and loss done to the customers and their families involved in the rear-end collision car accidents resulting from the flaw of gas tank in the rear of the car. The company thought that the number of such cases would rather be small, and the cost of damage was approximately $200,725 per human life in form of compensation for the victim’s pain and sufferings. And the overall cost of the whole situation was figured or predicted to be approximately somewhere around $50 million.
On the other hand, the company would make an estimation of approximately $11 per tank to redesign and fix the flaw in the tank which could have saved hundreds of lives on the road. And the approximate calculation of $137. 5 million would cost according to the company if they actually recall for the change in their assembly line to fix the flaw of gas tanks. This figure could be interpreted as the loss or damage done not only to the company but also its stakeholders and employees working there.
In conclusion, the company could have upheld their responsibility to safety and spoke up that the car wasn’t safe to go on the road until the gas tank was redesigned while taking safety in consideration. Ford was ethically responsible either to inform consumers of defect or should have stopped the production as they knew the apparent danger to buyers & take the necessary actions to eradicate by redesigning gas tank. References: http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Ford_Pinto http://www. engineering. com/Library/ArticlesPage http://www. credoreference. com/entry/edinburghppaz/utilitarianism