- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 3, 2006

12:32 p.m.

Ford Motor Co., already reeling from business setbacks, recalled 1.2 million trucks, sport utility vehicles and vans today amid concerns about potential engine fires.

Ford said the recall was tied to the speed-control deactivation switch system, which could corrode over time, overheat and ignite. It builds upon one of the largest recalls in U.S. history.

The recall was the latest setback for the No. 2 U.S. automaker, which said late yesterday that its second-quarter loss more than doubled from what the company previously had reported because of higher-than-expected pension costs.

Ford also said its luxury division will not be profitable this year. The automaker has hired a turnaround specialist and is reported to be reviewing poorly performing units, including Jaguar, with an eye toward possibly selling some units.

Underscoring it woes in North America, Ford last month for the first time sold fewer vehicles than Toyota Motor Corp. in the United States.

The recall involves vehicles fueled by gasoline or natural gas and equipped with speed control, including the 1994-2002 F-250, F-350, F-450 and F-550 F-Super Duty trucks, 2000-2002 Excursion SUVs, 1994-1996 Econoline vans and 1996-2002 E-450 vans, and 1998 Explorers and Mountaineers. The recall does not involve similar vehicles fueled by diesel.

In September, Ford recalled 3.8 million pickups and SUVs from the 1994-2002 model years, including the top-selling F-150 pickup, because of the concerns over engine fires. It was the fifth-largest auto industry recall in U.S. history.

In January 2005, the company recalled nearly 800,000 pickups and SUVs from the 2000 model year because of similar issues.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said today that it had closed a nearly two-year investigation into the cause of the fires. The agency has received 1,472 complaints connected to the problems, including 65 reports of fires.

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