A Ford Kuga burns in Alberton. Picture: WARREN KROG
A Ford Kuga burns in Alberton. Picture: WARREN KROG

Ford is trying to silently quash a class-action lawsuit by offering to settle the bank loans of Kuga owners whose vehicles had caught alight or malfunctioned.

However, this newspaper has learnt that the settlement offer comes with a catch: affected owners approached by Ford have to sign a nondisclosure agreement with the company.

To date, six owners of Kuga hybrid cars have taken up the offer, which Ford has described as perfectly legal.

Lawyer Rod Montano, who is handling the class-action lawsuit against Ford, said the settlement offer was designed to kill any legal action being brought against Ford.

Montano said he believed the settlement offer was malicious and designed to prevent persevering faults with the Kuga from becoming public and coming to the attention of the authorities.

Since January 2017, Ford has had to make three safety recalls for the Kuga. This was after 72 had caught fire on SA’s roads.

Kirsten James, whose Kuga caught fire in April, declined to reveal how much she was paid out. "All I can say is that I am happy with the assistance provided by Ford. I can’t comment on what that assistance was."

Johannesburg motorist Angelique Horn confirmed that Ford had offered to settle with her bank the R170,000 she still owed on her Kuga.

She said the latest offer was made after the car had suffered a catastrophic electronics malfunction while she was driving to Cape Town on holiday.

Ford spokesman Mines Bhagaloo said: "Any claim received by us has been handled on a case-by-case basis according to each customer’s own unique and specific circumstances."

He confirmed that they had signed nondisclosure agreements in each case, "to respect our customers’ confidentiality".

"There is nothing unusual about this and it is in accordance with best practices and the rule of law that enjoins us to protect information which includes personally identifiable information."

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