- - Wednesday, September 5, 2012

DETROIT — Ford is recalling about 7,600 brand-new Escape SUVs to fix coolant leaks that can cause engines to overheat or even catch fire.

The recall affects Escapes from the 2013 model year with 1.6-liter four-cylinder engines.

The problem is that plugs in the engine may not have been installed properly and can fall out while the motor is running. Coolant can leak and cause engines to overheat.

It’s the third recall in less than two months for the new Escape, which had been completely redesigned. In July, the company recalled 11,500 of the SUVs to fix fuel lines that can crack, leak and cause fires. Ford Motor Co. urged customers not to drive the cars and said dealers would pick them up to make the repairs. Also in July, the company said it would recall more than 10,000 Escapes to fix carpet padding that could interfere with braking.

The three recalls of the new Escape, which went on sale in June, show that Ford is responding quickly to problems and are not a sign of quality troubles, said Ford spokeswoman Marcey Zwiebel.

In the latest recall, Ford said it will fix the problems for free. Dealers will add sealant to the metal plugs and put a secondary cover over them to make sure they don’t fall out and cause leaks.

LABOR

Productivity grew at 2.2% rate in spring

U.S. companies got more output from their workers this spring than initially thought. Productivity rose at a modest 2.2 percent annual rate in the April-June quarter, largely because employers cut back sharply on hiring.

Most economists expect productivity will slow later this year, a trend that could boost hiring.

The Labor Department said Wednesday that productivity in the second quarter was better than its initial estimate of a 1.6 percent gain.

The main reason for the increase was the government revised growth in the second quarter to an annual rate of 1.7 percent, up from an initial estimate of 1.5 percent.

That led to more output, which boosted productivity. Productivity is the amount of output per hour worked.

Labor costs rose at an annual rate of 1.5 percent, slightly lower than the 1.7 percent initially estimated.

TECHNOLOGY

Nokia, Motorola unveil new smartphones

NEW YORK — Nokia and Motorola have unveiled five new smartphones between them, while Amazon is expected to announce a new Kindle Fire this week before attention turns to a new iPhone from Apple on Wednesday.

Makers of consumer electronics are refreshing their products for the holiday shopping season. Apple’s rivals are hoping that a head start on the buzz will translate into stronger sales.

Nokia and Microsoft, in particular, are trying to generate interest in a new Windows operating system out next month. The two phones announced Wednesday by Nokia are its first to run Windows Phones 8.

Motorola Mobility, meanwhile, is extending its Razr brand. That’s the name of a popular clamshell phone from 2004, the last time Motorola had a hit. Apart from the name, the three new smartphones bear no resemblance to the original phone.

They are the first major devices Motorola is launching under new owner Google Inc., which also makes the Android operating system that rivals Apple’s phone software..

From wire dispatches and staff reports