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Thursday, 1 November, 2001, 11:30 GMT
Tyre row creeps toward deal
Ford Explorer
The troubled Ford Explorer sports utility vehicle was fitted with Firestone tyres
By the BBC World Business Report's Vicki Broadbent

Japanese tyre-maker Bridgestone and the Ford motor company are to meet to discuss how and if the cost of the tyre recall should be shared, according to reports in Japan's Nihon Keizai Shimbun business daily.

The two companies severed ties earlier this year after a dispute about the safety of Firestone tyres.

Numerous accidents involving Ford vehicles fitted with Firestone tyres are thought to have resulted in over 200 deaths.

Talks will likely centre on whether Bridgestone will assume part of the $3bn cost Ford of the voluntary tyre recall.

Neither company has confirmed talks are taking place.

Change in leadership

The reports come only days after Jacques Nasser was replaced as Chief Executive of Ford, by William Clay Ford Jnr, a descendent of both the founders of Ford and the former Firestone Tyre and rubber company.

Observers say Ford's change at the top may have opened the door for the companies to mend their relationship at a time when both are facing hundreds of lawsuits in the US over death and injury allegedly caused by defective products.

Both companies suffered heavy losses in the ensuing public relations war.

Bridgestone, which owns the US subsidiary Firestone, blamed defects on Ford vehicles while Ford said the fault was with the tyres.

In May this year Ford severed its near century old ties with Bridgestone and began replacing 13 million Firestone tyres free of charge for its customers.

Sales of Firestone tyres fell 50% in the first half of 2001 while Ford's sales have fallen at twice that of the industry rate.

The possible reconciliation may be timely as the latest Japanese car sale figures bring more bad news for both companies with vehicle sales down 7%.

See also:

24 Aug 01 | Business
Firestone settles $1bn court case
19 Jun 01 | Business
Ford defends its safety record
17 Jun 01 | Business
Firestone faces $1bn lawsuit
22 May 01 | Business
Ford confirms $2.1bn tyre recall
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