Ford faces DoJ investigation over Focus, Fiesta transmission problems
The inquiry is said to focus on materials that might indicate the company was aware of a defect or misled safety regulators.
The US Department of Justice has reportedly assigned criminal fraud investigators to review Ford's handling of transmission problems involving millions of Fiesta and Focus vehicles.
A subpoena filed in April seeks any documents or internal communications related to the DPS6 PowerShift transmission that might indicate the company was aware of a defect that it knew to be unrepairable, or may have misled customers and safety regulators, according to the Detroit Free Press.
The automaker in July issued a lengthy statement criticizing the same newspaper for a story that claimed some drivers had experienced sudden acceleration, arguing the problems are limited to "vibration, or shudder" and sometimes shifting into neutral.
The company accused the outlet of printing unfounded allegations "shopped to reporters by attorneys attempting to call attention to an old topic." The newspaper has denied that the subpoena was obtained from a lawyer representing owners that have opted out of the class-action lawsuit against Ford.
The Detroit Free Press stands by its original story, claiming to have uncovered evidence that the company "knew the transmissions were defective before putting them on the market" and had considered dropping production plans for the problematic dual-clutch gearbox in 2011, however the decision to find a new transmission was rejected due to cost considerations. Freshly obtained documents detail alleged negotiations between Ford and Getrag as the automaker attempted to obtain a confidential settlement from the transmission supplier.
To be clear, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has investigated the matter without demanding a recall despite thousands of complaints logged in its database.
"Ford routinely cooperates with all federal, state and local regulatory and other authorities and, as has long been a matter of public record, has in particular cooperated with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) as to DPS6-related issues beginning in 2014," the company said in a statement. "Ford has taken a number of actions to enhance transmission performance and the experience of our customers including extending warranties for customers from five years/60,000 miles to seven years/100,000."