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Old 08-09-2002, 08:29   #1 (permalink)
Mr. Embargo
 
Join Date: May 2001
Location: Embargoland
Posts: 3,745
Ford Says It Can't Get Parts for Tests of Police Cars

Traverse City, Michigan, Aug. 8 (Bloomberg) -- Ford Motor Co. said it hasn't been able to get fuel bladders needed for safety tests after the deaths of three Arizona Highway Patrol officers in crashes involving the automaker's Crown Victoria sedans.

The world's second-largest automaker wants five fuel-tank bladders, which are supposed to prevent gasoline from leaking in crashes, for testing, Vice President Sue Cischke told reporters. The supplier, Aircraft Rubber Manufacturing Inc.'s Fuel Safe, sells the bladders to government agencies and has told Ford it doesn't have extras for the automaker, she said.

Aircraft Rubber has a backlog of bladder orders, making it difficult to provide the parts quickly to Ford for testing, said Ty Rupert, operations manager of the Bend, Oregon-based company. ``I'm trying to accommodate them,'' he said.

The Arizona officers died in fires after the fuel tanks on their Crown Victorias ruptured when the cars were rear-ended at high speed, Arizona officials have said. The state suspended Crown Victoria purchases and asked for a safety review. Ford maintains the cars meet safety standards and don't need to be recalled.

Ford is trying to get the bladders from officials in Arizona, Cischke said. The state is ``aware that there is a scarcity issue'' for the bladders and wants them evaluated because it doesn't know of any previous tests of the parts, said Pati Urias, a spokeswoman for the Arizona attorney general's office.

Some police orders for Crown Victorias in Florida have been delayed, Cischke said after a Traverse City, Michigan, speech. Dearborn, Michigan-based Ford has estimated it has an 85 percent share of the market for so-called police interceptor vehicles.

Developed for Race Cars

The fuel-tank bladders originally were developed for race cars, Rupert said. Production ``is all hand labor,'' he said. The company makes about 25 Crown Victoria bladders a week and is planning to double that in two weeks, Rupert said.

Ford said the bladder tests are needed because police cars are in service longer and operate in different conditions than race cars. ``It's never been crash-tested, it's never been durability-tested,'' Cischke said of the bladders in an interview.

Police cars are ``an important market for us,'' she said. ``We have a very good relationship with police departments.''

Ford shares fell 36 cents to $11.92 at 4:16 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. They have declined 24 percent this year.
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