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In Reliability, Detroit forces BMWs, Benzes Off the Road
Christian Science Monitor - April 16, 2004

Motor Trend

When Sajida Bhatti set out to buy a new car recently to surprise his girlfriend, he considered Toyotas, BMWs, and Mercedes-Benzes. He ended up with a Mustang convertible.

The reason: He thought a Detroit product would be more reliable than any of the big-name imports. "Reliability was very important to me," says Mr. Bhatti, a grocery store owner in Medford, Mass. "I did some research on several sites and came to the conclusion the Ford was best in overall quality."

Whether or not he's right, more and more consumers like Bhatti are coming to a conclusion that would have seemed heretical just a few years ago: that Detroit is, in fact, building cars that are equal or superior to imports from Europe and Japan.

That breakthrough in perception has been a long, pot-holed road for the Big Three US automakers, who lost out to Asian imports in 25 years of quality surveys by J.D. Power and Consumer Reports magazine. Over that period, a list of important new models has been hit with recall after recall that sullied the reputations of entire brands - indeed, the whole US auto industry. "Made in America" became a punch line or something for people to consider if they wanted to be patriotic, not to avoid trips to the neighborhood mechanic.

Meanwhile, Japanese companies, led by Toyota, made quality - measured by a lack of defects needing repairs - a priority. They built their reputation - and millions of sales of small, economical cars, SUVs, and pickups - on these studies. Ultimately, they grabbed more than 30 percent of the US car market.

Now Detroit is making substantial gains on the factory floor and in public perceptions. In one widely respected study, for instance, Ford and General Motors fell behind only Toyota in the number of cars ranked most reliable in their class over a three-year period. Similarly, Consumer Reports magazine, in its annual April auto guide, almost gushed about US manufacturers this year. "It's the first time American cars have done so well" compared with imports in its annual survey of hundreds of thousands of car owners in the US, it said.

"The domestics have made a strategic decision that they have to make quality a priority if they're going to win back a share of this market," says Gabriel Shenhar, a program manager at Consumers Union, the publisher of Consumer Reports.

Improvements for Detroit have largely come the hard way - through lots of incremental steps. Automakers have developed tighter relations with suppliers, at the same time insisting they warranty their parts for longer and provide them at lower costs. Factories have been modernized and workers empowered. Better design has made cars easier to assemble. And more parts sharing among models has increased production of the most proven axles and alternators.

While US cars don't quite match up with Japanese name plates across all models, they have passed most European vehicles in quality surveys and gained enough to put Ford, General Motors, and even Chrysler back on Americans' shopping lists.

"It used to be [American cars were] considered second rate in terms of reliability," says Jim Hossack, a senior consultant with AutoPacific, in Tustin, Calif. "Now it's looking about even."

Full Article
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Let's hope all the recalls so far this year don't stop the momentum...
 

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Now this is the kind of article I like to see. I think once Domestics get their quality together it will be a battle between car spirit.
 

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This is great news, although not new to most of us. If GM's and Fords recalls don't hurt their stride, I am sure most people will start to consider American vehicles again. Chrysler has great new products out, I am just waiting to see if the quality is there. GM has been on an uprise for a while, and Ford seems to make "Quality Job One" again, though hopefully, they don't surpass GM :p . (Just kidding). And when Motor Trend even puts out an article on it, people should stand up and listen.
 

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Yea thats the hard part to fix. Puplic Perception. Id say this news needs a boost by the media. This is what people need to hear since its now valid.
 

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Great!
 

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Why doesn't everyone print this article off a once, or twice? We could place them in a few high traffic places. Maybe we can help change the perception a little bit ourselves.
 

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Originally posted by jesusfreakf1@Apr 16 2004, 09:34 PM
This is great news, although not new to most of us. If GM's and Fords recalls don't hurt their stride, I am sure most people will start to consider American vehicles again. Chrysler has great new products out, I am just waiting to see if the quality is there. GM has been on an uprise for a while, and Ford seems to make "Quality Job One" again, though hopefully, they don't surpass GM :p . (Just kidding). And when Motor Trend even puts out an article on it, people should stand up and listen.
Yes, Chrysler quality has improved - thanks to the Mercedes methods of quality control implimented by Daimler. Chrysler was supposedily improving its quality before the Germans came in, but I can't say I ever saw it. In any case, you can thank the Mercedes quality methods for improving Chrysler's quality.
 

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I'd just like to add that this article also appeared on the FRONT PAGE of my local newspaper Friday night. That's pretty damn nice to see :).
 

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I don't think any improvement at Chrysler (if there's been one) is due to Mercedes. Judgeing by their prices and quality Mercedes has close to the lowest production effeciency in the industry, so I can only imagine if you sped up/cut corners on their processes you'd end up with a real mess.

All the Europeans, in fact, are quite ineffecient and are only kept afload by inflated prices.

IMHO GM and Ford have learned strait from the Japanese. GMs has had a number of partnerships and technology exchanges with Toyota over the years which have given them ample opportunity to learn from the best. And Ford seems to be paterning its production techniques after Mazda, and puttin them in charge of future development.
 

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Originally posted by stewacide@Apr 18 2004, 03:34 AM
IMHO GM and Ford have learned strait from the Japanese. GMs has had a number of partnerships and technology exchanges with Toyota over the years which have given them ample opportunity to learn from the best. And Ford seems to be paterning its production techniques after Mazda, and puttin them in charge of future development.
Somewhat...

Big3 did learn one thing...quality concepts from Deming and Juran really CAN be implemented and be effective. The Japanese corporations after WWII during the rebuilding era in the 50's adopted Deming's techniques.

Unfortunately, Detroit's arrogance of their position in the US auto market as impenetrable to foreign competition was a big istake. Then the 70's energy crisis proved to be the critical entry point of success for Japanese auto models.

The likes of Toyota, Honda, Datsun were able to perfect the production quality concepts and flexible mfg. during the 80's. Everything else is history as they say...
 

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Originally posted by markform@Apr 18 2004, 09:23 PM
I hate to burst everybody's bubble, but this article had to have been written by a PR Agency.

Ford Mustang #1 in quality? Compared to what? Other 2004 domestic pony cars? But the biggest joke is they actually believe people cross shop Mustang with BMW or MBZ. "Gee, I was gonna buy a 325Ci convertible.....until I went for a ride in that nice Mustang! I just loved the quality of that 25 year old fox platform. But what sealed the deal were those tinny doors and cheesy seatbelt chime that goes off every 5 seconds!!" :lol:

Of course they know all these claims are unbelievable....that's why they have to use an anecdotal case of some guy who actually believes them. It amazes what the media passes off as 'news' these days.
What you fail to grasp is that the general public does not know anything of car quality beyond what they read in magazines and newspapers and see on the news. Any new American, European or Japanese vehicle purchased today is of superior quality to anything comparable built in the 80's or even up to the mid 90's. All the major manufacturers are pretty much even in overall build quality, though there are a few exceptions here and there. The general public has largely been under the impression that Ford, GM and Chrysler are poor quality brands because of the media's failure to accurately portray things such as recalls. Do Toyota or Honda recalls make the news that much? No. When Ford or GM issues a recall on a 1997 model year vehicle, it's front page news. The news media has far too much power, because people still believe them to be unbiased. Heck, maybe they are unbiased, but they don't bother to report all the facts of a situation.
 

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"...Yes, Chrysler quality has improved - thanks to the Mercedes methods of quality control implimented by Daimler. Chrysler was supposedily improving its quality before the Germans came in, but I can't say I ever saw it. In any case, you can thank the Mercedes quality methods for improving Chrysler's quality..."

Yeah, not so much, AJR.

Let's look at a few stats to venture an educated guess as to why Chrysler quality, manufacturing skill, and productivity may be up.

Mercedes quality, which was (past tense) tops in the beginning of the last decade, falls below industry average. As an example, every Chrysler division, save Jeep at 321 problems per 100 vehicles compared to MB's 318, exceeds MB's performance. And I believe, though I cannot be certain presently, that Consumer Reports placed no MB on its preferred list. While I understand that these two are only two sources of information, it's certainly better than "if my memory serves correct" or "in my opinion." Hmmm, has MB deliberately placed all its top manufacturing execs at Chrysler Group? That's very doubtful.

However, in 2000, Chrysler was able to snatch Thomas LaSorda from GM. LaSorda started his automotive career at GM in 1977, where he held several manufacturing jobs, including being trained in the "Japanese way" when he worked in Fremont, California at the NUMMI plant. (Let's face it, Toyota spins circles around the Germans from a manufacturing, productivity and quality viewpoint). LaSorda learned from the best. It's then no coincidence that GM's quality improved, and now LaSorda is applying both quality of manufacturing techniques and productivity to Chrysler Group, which has translated into improvements of late in both of these areas at Chrysler. As an example, in an article in today's Automotive News, it mentioned that manufacturing productivity will increase 4-5% at Chrysler Group, whose operations are under the direction of COO, Thomas LaSorda.

One man does not a turn around make, but my guess is that with his track record and training, LaSardo has played a more of a role in turning Chryler's manufacturing operations around, more so than any German.

The belief in "German manufacturing excellence" is a bit dated and no longer applies. I'm not convinced of it, and it certainly does not bear out in any reputable sources.

Perhaps DaimlerChrysler execs will wisen up and shift LaSorda over to head MB's manufacturing. In that way, the Germans can learn how to build a high quality car from the Americans (via the Japanese, of course)!
 

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Originally posted by markform+Apr 19 2004, 05:22 AM--></div><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>QUOTE (markform @ Apr 19 2004, 05:22 AM)</td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'>
Originally posted by [email protected] 19 2004, 03:54 AM
<!--QuoteBegin-markform
@Apr 18 2004, 09:23 PM
I hate to burst everybody's bubble, but this article had to have been written by a PR Agency. 

Ford Mustang #1 in quality? Compared to what?  Other 2004 domestic pony cars? But the biggest joke is they actually believe people cross shop Mustang with BMW or MBZ.  "Gee, I was gonna buy a 325Ci convertible.....until I went for a ride in that nice Mustang! I just loved the quality of that 25 year old fox platform. But what sealed the deal were those tinny doors and cheesy seatbelt chime that goes off every 5 seconds!!"  :lol:

Of course they know all these claims are unbelievable....that's why they have to use an anecdotal case of some guy who actually believes them.  It amazes what the media passes off as 'news' these days.

What you fail to grasp is that the general public does not know anything of car quality beyond what they read in magazines and newspapers and see on the news.
I disagree. :argue: Buyers visit showrooms, slam doors, go on test drives, and touch all the controls to access their look and feel. They also observe their neighbors, friends, etc....if their friend was a loyal Ford guy, but switches into a Chevy....that means something. What they read is not as important as what they actually observe.

Besides, you missed the point of my post.....my criticism is directed at a phony news story that was clearly planted in MT by a PR Agency.

The article's title "....Forced off the Road" is the first big tip off. BMW & MB achieved sales INCREASES for almost every year since the early 90's....while Ford has consistently LOST market share. If anybody is getting forced off the road....it is Ford.

Do yourself a favor, go back an reread the article. You will not find ANY cold hard facts - the most meat you find are a few short quotes taken from a few easy to find sources. Take it from a guy who deals in media....this article is a plant from a PR Agency.....and a poorly done one at that! [/b][/quote]
Why is it any worse. BMW has been doing the same for years. So why blame Ford for planting PR articles. Anyways I don't believe that the article was planted, JD POWER surveys have shown this trend for the past few years now, this is nothing new. It has been known in the industry for quite some time. So, no, this is not a PR article.
 
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