The tyre crisis which is forcing plant closures onto Ford US has developed further. The Center for Auto Safety (CAS), a consumer pressure group has filed a federal lawsuit seeking to force Ford Motor Co. and Bridgestone/Firestone to replace tyres potentially linked to 62 traffic deaths.

The group filed the suit in the U.S. District Court in Washington D.C. It wants the companies to replace all Firestone-brand ATX, ATX II and Wilderness tyres regardless of their size and the plant where they were made.

"The center has filed this lawsuit to force the replacement of all ATX, ATX II and Wilderness tyres because they represent one of the most lethal defects ever with 62 deaths known already," CAS executive director, Clarence Ditlow, said in a statement from the group. The consumer group said the number of tyres involved would be twice as large as the 6.5m tyres which the tyre company has recalled.

Responding to news of the court action, Ford spokesman Jason Vines said: "We're not going to let anything, I repeat, anything, distract us from finding solutions for our customers. Period."