(Adds Ford U.S. recall figure from 2013, fires in corrosion issue, analyst comment)
By Bernie Woodall
DETROIT, May 29 (Reuters) - Ford Motor Co said on Thursday it is recalling 1.39 million SUVs and sedans in North America, most for the possible loss of power steering.
About 1.186 million of the vehicles Ford said it is recalling are in the United States. That figure is only 2,200 shy of the total number of vehicles that Ford recalled in the United States during all of last year.
Automakers are giving heightened scrutiny to safety issues in the wake of General Motors Co’s ongoing safety crisis that began with an ignition-switch issue in older-model cars.
So far this year, GM has recalled 15.8 million vehicles worldwide.
Analyst Karl Brauer of Kelley Blue Book said Ford’s spate of recalls on Thursday may be “driven by the heightened sense of concern all automakers are feeling right now, though we’ll likely never know for sure.”
Brauer added that there have been so many recalls since February when GM issued its first ignition-switch recall that the actions have become “sort of background white noise for consumers.”
Ford said it will recall 195,527 Explorer SUVs in North America from the 2011 to 2013 model years and 915,216 Ford Escape and Mercury Mariner SUVs from model years 2008 to 2011 on power steering issues.
In addition, it will recall nearly 200,000 Taurus sedans in North America from the 2010 to 2014 model years on a corrosion issue.
Finally, Ford is also recalling 82,576 sedans with floor mats that may interfere with the operation of accelerator pedals. The floor mats were put in 2006 to 2011 model year Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan and Lincoln Zephyr and MKZ sedans.
The loss of power steering can increase the risk of a crash when vehicles are traveling at lower rates of speed.
U.S. regulators have received consumer reports of six injuries and five crashes related to the Escape and Mariner models, Ford said.
As of mid-April, Ford said it was aware of 15 accidents including two minor injuries believed to be related to the loss of power steering in Explorer SUVs. The accidents all involved vehicles moving at lower speeds, Ford said.
In cold-weather U.S. states and Canadian provinces where road salt is used, corrosion can affect license plate lamps which in turn may cause a short circuit that could start a fire, Ford said. A Ford spokeswoman said the company is aware of 18 consumer reports of fires believed to be associated with this condition.
Ford did not say how much the recall campaigns are expected to cost. For the Mercury Mariner and Ford Escape recalls, dealers are to be notified on Thursday and letters to all affected U.S. owners will be sent by July 25, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said.
There may be additional vehicles included in the recall campaigns outside of North America, Ford said. (Reporting by Bernie Woodall; editing by Sofina Mirza-Reid and Matthew Lewis)