Responsible Irresponsibility

At the Ford Motor Co.’s annual shareholders’ meeting in Atlanta, Georgia, the company issued its first ever “corporate citizenship report”, which made some amazing and contradictory disclosures.

The report acknowledged that sport utility vehicles (SUVs) are a danger to people and the earth because they contribute more than cars to global warming, emit more smog causing pollution and endanger other motorists. However, as a sign of their “corporate citizenship”, Ford pledged to continue building SUVs because they are the company’s most profitable product.

The decision to continue manufacturing the socially irresponsible vehicles was reportedly a painful one for William C. Ford Jr., the company’s chair. He worries that automakers may get a bad reputation, comparable to that of tobacco companies.

But fear will not be allowed to get the better of the makers of the Ford Excursion, an SUV which gets only 10 miles to the gallon in the city, and 13 on the highway. “If we didn’t provide that vehicle, somebody else would, and they wouldn’t provide it as responsibly as we do,” Ford said.

How “responsible” the Ford Motor Co. has been in manufacturing SUVs is dubious. SUVs are three times as likely as cars to kill the other driver in a crash; but the SUV occupants are equally likely to be killed because the sport utilities tend to roll over and they lack “crumple zones.”