Bridgestone Corp.'s Firestone unit today ended its tire-supplier relationship with Ford Motor Co., citing safety concerns about the Ford Explorer SUV.
John T. Lampe, president & CEO of Bridgestone/Firestone Inc., said in a faxed letter to Ford CEO Jacques Nasser that Firestone will “honor our existing contractual obligations to you, (but) we will not enter into any new tire sales agreements in the Americas with Ford beginning today.
“Business relationships, like personal ones, are built upon trust and mutual respect,” Lampe wrote. “We have come to the conclusion that we can no longer supply tires to Ford since the basic foundation of our relationship has been seriously eroded.”
The century-long relationship between Firestone and Ford became strained in the past year after the recall of 6.5-million Firestone tires linked to at least 174 U.S. traffic deaths involving Ford Explorers. Officials from Ford and Bridgestone/Firestone have exchanged blame for the tire failures since they came to light.
“Our analysis suggests that there is a significant safety concern with a substantial segment of Ford Explorers. We have told Ford of our concerns. They have steadfastly refused to acknowledge those concerns. We have always said that in order to insure the safety of the driving public, it is crucial that there be a true sharing of information concerning the vehicle as well as the tires. Ford simply is not willing to do that,” Lampe said.
“We believe they are attempting to divert scrutiny of their vehicle by casting doubt on the quality of Firestone tires. The tires are safe, and as we have said before, when we have a problem, we will acknowledge that problem and fix it. We expect Ford to do the same,” he added.