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Ford/Firestone Fiasco
Bridgestone/Firestone, Inc. Ends Ford Tire Business in the Americas

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (May 21, 2001) - Bridgestone/Firestone, Inc. today announced it is terminating its almost 100-year business relationship of supplying tires to the Ford Motor Company.

"Business relationships, like personal ones, are built upon trust and mutual respect. We have come to the conclusion that we can no longer supply tires to Ford since the basic foundation of our relationship has been seriously eroded," said John T. Lampe, chairman, CEO and president of Bridgestone/Firestone, Inc. "This is not a decision we make lightly after almost 100 years of history. But, we must look to the future and the best interests of our company, our employees and our other customers."

Lampe informed Ford of the decision during an early morning meeting at Firestone headquarters in Nashville, Tenn. attended by Carlos Mazzorin, Ford Group Vice President of Global Purchasing, and in a letter sent to Ford Motor Company CEO Jacques Nasser.

"Our analysis suggests that there is a significant safety concern with a substantial segment of Ford Explorers. We have told Ford of our concerns. They have steadfastly refused to acknowledge those concerns. We have always said that in order to insure the safety of the driving public, it is crucial that there be a true sharing of information concerning the vehicle as well as the tires. Ford simply is not willing to do that," Lampe said. "We believe they are attempting to divert scrutiny of their vehicle by casting doubt on the quality of Firestone tires. The tires are safe, and as we have said before, when we have a problem, we will acknowledge that problem and fix it. We expect Ford to do the same."

Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. will honor the terms of its existing agreements but will enter into no new tire sales agreements in the Americas with Ford beginning today. A copy of the letter sent from Mr. Lampe to Mr. Nasser is included with this release.