Polaris RZR vs Ford Pinto

In the blog entry linked below, BEH editor Chris MacDonald asks, “Is the Polaris RZR the New ‘Ford Pinto?'” The reference is to the Ford Pinto, a car made back in the 1970s that was believed to have an unusually high probability of bursting into flames when hit from behind. That case, and the way Ford handled it, has been taught in business ethics classrooms for decades. The recent controversy over the Polaris RZR off-road buggy shares many features. The RZR case may be the product-safety case that dominates business ethics classrooms for the next few decades.

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LINK: Is the Polaris RZR the New ‘Ford Pinto?’ (by Chris MacDonald for Business Ethics Blog)

…A few more points of similarity, and a few differences, between the two cases, based on what the NYT has reported:

Baseline statistics: The NYT reports that “2013 to 2018, Polaris Industries issued RZR recalls 10 times for fire hazards, far more than for any competing product.” In other words, the RZR hazard is not just bad, it’s remarkably bad. This seems to be a difference between the RZR case from the Pinto case.

Design flaw: The NYT reports that the RZR’s new, souped-up engine “has an exhaust pipe that is housed inches behind passengers and too close to key components without adequate ventilation, lawsuits have alleged, citing reviews by mechanical engineers.” And: “On the ProStar [engine], the exhaust header pipe is connected to the front of the engine, behind the seats, before turning 180 degrees and ending at the rear of the vehicle.”….

What do you think?


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