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Thu, Apr. 29, 2004
The GM Arlington plant rises sharply in an annual ranking of automotive plant quality
By Sean Wood
Star-Telegram Staff Writer

The General Motors Arlington (Texas) assembly plant has significantly improved the quality of its products, making it one of the best performers in North America.

The plant saw its performance improve by 30 percent in the J.D. Power & Associates 2004 Initial Quality Survey released Wednesday.

All of Arlington's 2004 products improved over 2003. The Chevrolet Suburban and Tahoe and GMC Yukon ranked first, second and fourth, respectively, in full-size sport utility vehicles. The Cadillac Escalade and Escalade ESV ranked third in the premium luxury SUV category, up from sixth last year.

"We build a great product and the people here are proud of it," said Jimmy Conway, president of United Auto Workers Local 276, which represents the Arlington plant.

J.D. Power measures problems per 100 vehicles based on responses from more than 51,000 drivers of 2004 vehicles after 90 days of ownership. This is the 18th year of the survey.

The Arlington plant reported 95 problems per 100 vehicles, according to Plant Manager Mike Glinski. That is down from 135 problems per 100 vehicles in 2003. The improvement moved the plant to ninth from 39th among 83 North American manufacturing plants, Glinski said. The GM plant that makes the Cadillac CTS in Lansing Grand River, Mich., ranked first in North America.

"When you take a look at where we were last year, we've really become extremely customer-focused," Glinski said.

The plant reviewed monthly reports from J.D. Power, Glinski said, and instituted procedures to assemble vehicles. That helped reduce the number of mistakes made in each assembly station, he said.

"When you're commonizing processes at plants, if any plants have an issue, you can leverage off of their experience," he said.

The reduction in problems per 100 vehicles from Arlington is reflected in the improvement made in the products built there along with other plants. Janesville, Wis., and Silao, Mexico, build some of the same vehicles as Arlington.

The Suburban, the highest-ranked full-size SUV, had 84 problems per 100 vehicles according to Glinski. That is down from 115 problems per 100 last year. The Tahoe had 91 problems per 100 vehicles in 2004 compared with 135 in 2003. The Yukon, which slipped behind the Toyota Sequoia to fourth among full-size SUVs, still improved from last year. It had 110 problems per 100 in 2004 compared with 138 in 2003. The Escalade had 104 problems per 100 compared with 131 problems in 2003.

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