How Bad Is the Announced Ford Ambulance Recall?

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Ford (NYSE:F) announced it is recalling thousands of F-Series ambulances due to a problem that could cause vehicles to stall for a minimum of one hour, the Associated Press reports. Problems with the gas temperature sensor are to blame, according to the news service, leaving ambulance drivers unable to start the vehicles until a theoretical cooling period completes. Ford is treating only the ambulances in the F-Series recall as a priority and will brush off the rest in what appears to be a low-impact recall.

According to the AP, a total of 3,100 F-Series trucks equipped with a 6.7-liter diesel engine are affected, including the Super Duty, F-350, and F-450. The model years affected are 2011 and 2012. The news agency reports Ford has not heard of any problems in delivering patients to hospitals as a result of the ambulances stalling following the faulty high-temperature reading. The automaker is not recalling non-ambulance F-Series vehicles affected.

Fleet sales to police forces, hospitals, and rental agencies are important to Detroit automakers, but Ford and General Motors (NYSE:GM) have been showing they have the ability to deliver consumer-first vehicles since the industry nearly collapsed in 2008. As evidence, Ford’s most recent sales report showed the automaker posting its best October of retail (non-fleet) sales since 2004.

In the Ford October sales report, the most encouraging news came from the Lincoln brand, which showed some life with a 38-percent overall gain over October 2012, and the Lincoln MKZ with growth of 80 percent. The Fusion — described by an analyst during the earnings call as “gangbusters” for Ford — posted a mammoth 71-percent sales gain over 2012 with 21,740 units sold.

Ford also announced the recall of 2,600 Ford Focus Electric models on November 1 in a similar issue that would cut power to the wheels and render the car inoperable.

As in the case of the F-Series ambulance recall, the low number of vehicles will keep Ford from spending a great deal on the fix. The automaker is unlikely to face a great deal of bad press over the recall, as long as affected ambulances make it back for the fix before a patient gets stranded on the way to the hospital.

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