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Chronology of events in Ford/Firestone controversy

May 21, 2001

The following is a chronology of events leading to the decision of Japan's Bridgestone Corp. on Monday to stop supplying new tires to Ford Motor Co. because of a dispute over whether Ford Explorer Sport Utility Vehicles or Firestone tires have caused 174 traffic deaths in the United States.

Aug., 1999 - Ford offers customers in Saudi Arabia free replacements for tires in question.

Feb., 2000 - Ford offers free replacement tires for vehicles in Malaysia and Thailand.

May - Ford offers to replace tires for customers in Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela.

May 2 - After receiving numerous inquiries and complaints from consumers in the U.S., the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) opens a preliminary probe of the alleged failure of ATX, ATX II and Wilderness tires made by Firestone.

May 8 - NHTSA asks Bridgestone/Firestone for information about the tires in question as part of its preliminary evaluation.

May 10 - NHTSA asks Ford for information about the tires and the use of the tires in the carmaker's product lines.

Aug. 1 - Two safety groups, Public Citizen and Strategic Safety, appeal to Ford to recall millions of sport utility vehicles (SUVs) and pickup trucks made over last decade, claiming the tire tread can peel off.

Aug. 3 - NHTSA says it is probing 21 deaths in crashes of pickup trucks and SUVs in which tire failure may have played a role.

Aug. 4 - Sears, Roebuck & Co., the No. 1 U.S. tire retailer, stops selling certain Firestone tires.

Aug. 7 - NHTSA says it is probing at least 46 deaths potentially related to failures of Firestone tires. Discount Tire Co. and Montgomery Ward also say they will suspend sale of Firestone tires until more information is made available.

Aug. 9 - Bridgestone announces the recall of 6.5 million ATX, ATX II and Wilderness tires of certain sizes produced by its Firestone unit and offers to replace them.

Aug. 15 - NHTSA raises to 62 from 46 the number of traffic deaths linked to Firestone tires and says it is looking into reports of 100 injuries, with almost all of those involving Ford Explorer SUVs.

Aug. 21 - Ford announces it will idle three truck assembly plants to free up tires for recall replacements. The automaker also begins prime-time television advertising featuring Chief Executive Jacques Nasser in an effort to repair its image, battered by the recall.

Aug. 22 - Bridgestone says it will fly tires from Japan to the U.S. to provide replacements for recalled tires.

Aug. 23 - Bridgestone says it will boost production to 450,000 tires annually at three Japanese plants to provide replacement tires for the recall.

Aug. 25 - Venezuelan consumer protection agency says it has evidence of deception by Ford and Bridgestone that cost lives in traffic accidents.

Aug. 28 - Bridgestone says it will boost production in Japan to 650,000 tires from 450,000 earlier for replacements.

Aug. 31 - NHTSA raises the number of deaths linked to Firestone tires to 88 from 62, and the number of injuries to 250 from 100. Venezuela's consumer protection agency recommends Bridgestone and Ford be prosecuted over tires linked to 46 deaths in Venezuela.

Sept. 1 - NHTSA warns motorists about an additional 1.4 million Firestone tires that may have even greater problems than the 6.5 million recalled. Firestone says it disagrees with the analysis and refuses to recall the tires.

Sept. 4 - Bridgestone/Firestone reaches agreement with union to settle labor dispute and avert a strike at nine U.S. plants. Bridgestone agrees to recall all 62,000 Wilderness AT Firestone tires in Venezuela.

Sept. 6 - Lawmakers criticize Ford and Firestone at separate House and Senate hearings. Firestone's chief executive apologies, while Ford says it will not rest until every faulty tire is replaced.

Sept 19 - Bridgestone says spiraling costs of tire recall to reach $400-500 million in the business year to next March, $50-$150 million more than originally projected.

Sept 19 - NHTSA raises the number of deaths linked to Firestone tires to 103 from 88, and the number of injuries to more than 400 from 250.

Sept 29 - U.S. highway safety investigators expand probe of Firestone tires to include the company's Steeltex line of light truck tires following 169 complaints related to Steeltex radials since the beginning of 1998, including two deaths.

Oct 5 - House Commerce Committee unanimously backs legislation aimed at strengthening highway safety in the wake of Firestone recall.

Oct 10 - Bridgestone/Firestone replaces Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Masatoshi Ono with John Lampe, who becomes first American to lead Bridgestone/Firestone since it was bought by Bridgestone in 1988.

Oct 17 - NHTSA raises number of deaths linked to Firestone tires to 119 and number of injuries to more than 500.

Oct 17 - Bridgestone/Firestone announces production cut at three U.S. plants and lays off 450 people at its Decatur, Illinois, facility. Firestone's total North American output to fall by 20 percent.

Oct 18 - Ford third-quarter operating earnings fall 16.3 percent to $994 million, hit by $500 million in costs related to Firestone recall.

Oct 20 - Bridgestone stock plunges 12.25 percent to year-low of 938 yen, down 60 percent since early August.

Oct 23 - Bridgestone says in Tokyo it found no major development or production problems at its U.S. Firestone unit, and that there was no one specific cause behind the tire problems.

Nov 17 - Bridgestone/Firestone says to cut tire production at two U.S. plants in January, resulting in temporary layoff of about 1,100 workers.

Dec 5 - Bridgestone President and Chief Executive Officer Yoichiro Kaizaki denies the U.S. unit was in danger of failing, and says tire maker would set aside $450 million this year to settle claims.

Dec 6 - NHTSA raises number of deaths linked to Firestone tires to 148.

Dec 14 - Bridgestone slashes profit estimate for this year by 80 percent and says to take a $750 million special loss this year to cover recall costs and potential damage claims.

Dec 27 - Ford settles at least eight lawsuits and says plans to settle many more cases stemming from accidents involving Ford Explorer vehicles and Firestone tires.

Jan 2, 2001 - Bridgestone/Firestone recalls another 8,000 tires with adhesion problems that were made in Mexico and equipped on General Motors Corp. SUVs.

Jan 4 - U.S. consumer group Public Citizen urges Bridgestone/Firestone to almost double its recall of 6.5 million tires, saying it was narrowly focused and hastily imposed.

Jan 11 - Bridgestone announces Kaizaki to resign to salvage the company's image.

Feb 6 - NHTSA raises to 174 the number of deaths connected to Firestone tires.

May 16 - New York Times reports Ford has concluded that there are problems with a number of Firestone tire models beyond those recalled, and is leaning toward demanding a wider recall. Firestone says its analysis of data does not support the allegations made by Ford.

May 20 - Ford says it is recalling 50,000 of its new 2002 Explorer sport utility vehicles because an assembly line problem may have cut tire treads. Ford says the problem is unrelated to the Firestone recall.

May 21 - Firestone says it is severing nearly a century of business ties with Ford and charges that the automaker is trying to deflect attention away from problems with the Explorer.

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