The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has taken the next step in its investigation of consumer complaints involving exhaust odor inside the Ford Motor Co.’s (NYSE: F) Explorer SUV. The agency began its investigation into the complaints in June of last year and has now upgraded its initial investigation to an engineering analysis.
The NHTSA’s Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) has identified 3 crashes and 41 injuries potentially linked to the exhaust odor issue. ODI has also identified 791 vehicle owner reports on the issue. The agency also reported that the problem occurred in model year 2016 and 2017 Explorer Police Interceptor vehicles.
At issue are 1.3 million Ford Explorers from model years 2011 to 2017 that may be emitting carbon monoxide into the passenger compartment of the vehicles. Ford has given the NHTSA 2,400 reports include owner complaints, warranty claims, dealer field reports, and legal claims involving 2,051 vehicles that may be connected to the exhaust odor issue.
Owner complaints indicate that operating the vehicle with full throttle applications (e.g., climbing steep grades or merging onto freeway ramps) or using the air conditioning system in recirculation mode both contribute to exhaust gas being detected in the vehicle. The reported injuries range from unspecified to loss of consciousness, with the majority being nausea, headaches, or dizziness – all of which can be symptomatic of carbon monoxide exposure according to the final ODI report.
A Ford spokesman told Bloomberg News Saturday that the company’s recall decisions are driven by data and that “when the data indicates a safety recall is needed, we move quickly on behalf of our customers.”
Ford stock closed up about 0.5% on Friday at $11.62 in a 52-week range of $10.47 to $13.27. The 12-month consensus price target is $11.91.