After a years-long saga concerning Ford Fiesta and Focus owners with PowerShift automatic transmissions, a federal judge approved a class-action settlement Thursday. According to a Detroit Free Press report, Ford will buy back thousands of problematic cars depending on how many attempts owners have made to address the problem in the past for up to $22,000 per vehicle.
Last summer, more information surfaced covering the scale of the problem itself, as well as how Ford handled repairs. The issue specifically affects Ford’s PowerShift gearbox — a six-speed dual-clutch, automated manual transmissions built in a joint venture with Getrag. Customers sued Ford for the PowerShift’s faulty operation, which affects 2012 – 2016 Focus and 2011 – 2016 Fiesta models. During normal driving, the transmissions were prone to “shuddering, slipping, bucking, jerking, hesitation while changing gears, premature internal wear, delays in downshifting and, in some cases, sudden or delayed acceleration,” according to the lawsuit.
A later Free Press investigation prompted Ford to extend warranty coverage to some 600,000 owners. For their part, those who bought the cars told reporters of several failed attempts to permanently fix the issue. Lead class counsel at Capstone Law, Ryan Wu, said of the judgment, “It’s reasonable to assume that the settlement will deliver at least $100 million for the buyback benefit alone, with no upper limit.”
At the moment, estimates place about 1.5 million vehicles with Ford’s PowerShift transmission still on the roads. In total, the settlement affects nearly 2 million owners and former owners, putting Ford’s possible liability at around $500 million for the issue. That includes the buyback program and cash payments totaling no less than $30 million — set aside for smaller payments of up to $250 for customers who may not qualify for the buyback.