April 24, 2002

Ford defends decision not to offer integrated child seats

Detroit, Michigan – Jim Vondale, director of the Automotive Safety Office at Ford Motor Company issued a statement yesterday explaining why Ford doesn’t offer integrated child seats in their North American vehicles.

“Ford offered integrated child seats as an option in a number of our vehicles during the 1990s, but the feature was discontinued,” he said. “We believe that the public was not receptive to the idea at the time for a variety of reasons, including the greater flexibility, wide availability and lower customer cost of add-on child restraints.”

Vondale continued, “Built-in child seats no longer offer the best available protection for the wide range of young children who should be restrained by child seats from infant seats to boosters. Effective child seats accommodating a wide range of child sizes were – and continue to be-available for significantly less than the cost of the integrated seat. Parents can purchase and install a variety of child seats from infant seats to boosters as their children grow without having to replace their vehicle. These add-on child seats also can be used in a variety of vehicles, for example, when a non-parent caregiver in another vehicle is transporting the child.”

To aid the installation of child seats, Ford has included LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children) attachments in many of their 2002 vehicles. Nearly all Ford vehicles will have LATCH within about six months.

Ford launched an advertising program in 2001 designed to increase the public’s awareness and usage of booster seats for children over 40 pounds and under 4’9″, typically over the age of four. Ford invested more than $30 million in the campaign. As well, Ford is currently distributing up to one million booster seats in the United States, with half going to low-income families through a partnership with the United Way.

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