05/02/2017 09:52 GMT | Updated 05/02/2017 11:02 GMT

Ford Apologises To Kuga Customers

'We apologise unreservedly,' says Ford, promising to help customers and restore faith in the brand.

Ford motor company has apologised to the customers who bought the Kuga which was finally recalled in January after at least 39 vehicles caught fire.

"Safety is our top priority and whenever an incident, like the recent events surrounding the Ford Kuga, raises concerns about one of our vehicles, we treat it with the utmost seriousness," said Ford Southern Africa CEO and president Jeff Nemeth, in a full-page advertisement in the Sunday Times and City Press.

"We recognise that during this process we have not done a good enough job in keeping our customers and the public informed about the Ford Kuga situation and what we have been doing to fix it — for that we apologise unreservedly."

He said the company had communicated directly with those who could have been affected and asked them to bring their vehicles to Ford dealerships, capacity at Ford call centres was increased, and rental and courtesy cars were provided to affected owners.

"The Automobile Association will offer extended Ford Roadside Assistance to any affected vehicles, and for those Ford Kuga owners interested in acquiring other Ford products we have introduced support programs to assist our dealers," said Nemeth, saying the company was "absolutely committed to doing what it takes to address your concerns and restore your faith in our brand".

The safety recall was announced on January 16 and affects 4,556 model year 2013 and 2014 Ford 1.6 Kugas built between December 2012 and February 2014 and sold in South Africa.

Huffington Post South Africa previously explained what happens in a vehicle recall and this is what Ford is replacing in the Kugas.

It's not clear how many customers have taken advantage of the recall but Ford said it has already provided alternative more than 4,000 vehicles in alternative transport to customers during the recall.

In a longer statement on the company's website, Nemeth said there had been no incidents reported since the safety recall started.

He also reiterated the company's stance that nobody has died in any of the fires; this is despite an ongoing dispute with the family of Reshal Jimmy, who died in December 2015 when his Kuga caught fire.

"The underlying cause of these fires was difficult to diagnose and took careful examination. Importantly, the cracked cylinder heads and fires that have been caused by this issue, while damaging the vehicles, have not led to any fatalities or any injuries," said Nemeth.

Ford said so far more than 4,080 courtesy cars have been provided to affected customers, excluding dealer loaners and Ford company vehicles provided to some customers.