Ford Motor Co. started selling Focus and Fiesta models with defective transmissions between 2010 and 2011 — and knew it.
Owners of these cars reported more than 50 injuries and filed more than 4,300 complaints about the vehicles with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, according to report in the Detroit Free Press. No fatalities have been attributed to the transmission.
It may cost the company $3 billion to get the problem fixed as there still hundreds of thousands of the defective vehicles still on the road, according to internal documents secured by the Free Press.
The problem with the transmission can cause the vehicle to stall at highway speeds. It can also make the vehicle lurch forward – and into traffic – while the driver is stopped with their foot on the break. Despite a slew of reported problems, the automaker maintains the vehicles are fine.
In a statement to the Free Press, the company reiterated that “vehicles in which DPS6 was installed were and remain safe.” DP56 is the number for the defective transmission. The 2012-16 Focus and 2011-16 Fiesta equipped with the DPS6 have been the subject of 18 recalls for a range of defects, but none for transmission repair.
Ford, the Free Press reported, has conducted customer service programs for updates and replacement parts and has extended the warranty on the transmissions.
By late 2016, Ford documents show, “technical fixes to the Control Module and Clutch are in production and available for both vehicle assembly and service,” but supply of the parts was thousands short of what was needed for replacement. Some owners have gotten new DPS6 transmissions under warranty that have not solved the problems.
The new transmission arrived with much fanfare and promise, as Ford suggested the DPS6 offered the fuel economy and acceleration of a manual transmission with the operational ease of an automatic.
“With gasoline already more than $4 per gallon in some American cities, the new fuel-saving dual dry-clutch Ford PowerShift six-speed automatic is the right transmission at the right time,” a March 2011 news release said as the new Focus went to dealers, the Free Press reported.
Despite the avalanche of complaints and lawsuits, Ford maintains there is no problem with the transmissions. “While we eventually resolved the quality issues, the solutions were more complex and took longer than we expected. We regret the inconvenience and frustration that caused some consumers,” Ford told the Free Press in a statement.
T.R. Reed, a Ford spokesman, told TheDetroitBureau.com the Free Press story is “flawed.” The automaker thought the transmission was a “good product” when it was introduced. He noted the company tried to act quickly but the repairs for “some of those problems took longer than expected. That caused frustration for many of our customers and we regret that.”
“These vehicles are safe. Any indications to the contrary are inaccurate,” he added.