Special Coverage

Chicago Auto Show

CHICAGO – Ford Motor Co. doesn’t expect sales of its hybrid-electric vehicles to take a hit due to a recently discovered glitch in its brake-software system, a top executive says.

Uncovered last week by Consumer Reports magazine, the brake system in the ’10 Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan hybrid sedans reportedly is susceptible to electrical interference that could cause the brake-by-wire module to turn off temporarily.

If this were to occur, hydraulic braking would activate, but the pedal would drop by 1 in. (2.5 cm).

In response, Ford issued a technical service bulletin to address the problem, which was “never a safety issue,” but rather a “customer satisfaction” situation, says Mark Fields, president-The Americas.

“We have a very rigorous process within the company in terms of the development of our vehicles to make sure we deliver safety consistently,” Fields tells Ward’s on the sidelines of the auto show here.

Fields says there are no similarities between the issue with Ford’s hybrid brakes and the problems plaguing Toyota Motor Corp.’s Prius HEV, which has been recalled over a software glitch that causes a split-second delay when the vehicle’s brakes are deployed on rough roads.

“The issue we had with the Fusion was a very different issue than Toyota (has),” he says. “We have a process in the company that whenever there is a recall or an issue with another auto maker’s systems, we look at it to see if we have a similar design or parts or the same vendors.

“Ours was a customer-satisfaction initiative, and we very proactively took action, but it never was a safety issue because the brakes were always available to the customer,” Fields adds.

bpope@wardsauto.com