A new Ford advertising campaign designed to convince consumers its Explorers are
safe has upset rival General Motors, Associated Press (AP) reported.

A newspaper advertisement that Ford ran on Tuesday, which states that Explorers
were involved in fewer road accidents than most other sport utility vehicles
in 2000, irritated GM, the largest car company in Venezuela, AP said.

The news organisation, citing GM spokesman Rafael Ortega, said that, though
the advertisement didn’t mention other brand names, GM is worried that it could
cause the public to become concerned about its own sport utility models.

AP said that Ford advertised its own study which showed that Explorers were
only involved in 8.5 percent of sport utility vehicle accidents registered by
the Venezuelan government in 2000.

General Motors executives met government officials on Wednesday to verify Ford’s
statistics, Ortega told AP.

AP quoted GM vice president of marketing Hugo Wieland as saying in Caracas
daily El Nacional on Wednesday: "Now they are trying to involve us to say
that Explorers have not harmed anyone and that other sport utility vehicles
are more unsafe.

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"When they say that other vehicle sport utility vehicles caused more accidents,
it raises doubts on models that compete in that category.”

AP said that General Motors’ Blazer is the most popular SUV in Venezuela
so far this year with 1,926 sales.

The company also sells Grand Blazers and the Suzuki-designed Vitara and Grand
Vitara in Venezuela, AP added.

Citing spokesman Ricardo Tinoco, AP said that Ford responded that the advertisement
was not intended to cast a slur on other vehicle brands but intended instead
to put accident statistics "into context".

Venezuela’s consumer protection agency had previously said that Explorers had
been involved in 50 accidents since August after Ford replaced Firestone Wilderness
tyres on the 30,000 examples in the country, AP said, adding that Ford claims
that the agency’s statistics are inaccurate.