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It's funny how forgiving customers can be of some companies...

Nissan fights model defects

Automaker sends 200 engineers to three factory sites

By Brett Clanton / The Detroit News

Nissan Motor Co. has sent about 200 engineers from Japan to the United States, in part to investigate quality problems with its full-size Titan pickup and other new models.

Nissan had planned to bring in engineers to monitor new vehicle launches this year, but the number has grown because of recent quality complaints, said Fred Standish, a Nissan spokesman.

“We’re going to fix what we find wrong,” he said. “Simple as that.”

The engineers will review operations at Nissan assembly plants in Canton, Miss., and Smyrna, Tenn., as well as a San Diego design center and an engineering center in Farmington Hills. They will also drop in on key parts suppliers, Standish said.

The news was first reported Monday by Automotive News, an industry trade publication.

Nissan bombed in the 2004 J.D. Power and Associates Initial Quality Survey, released in April, with the automaker’s new full-size Titan pickup, Quest minivan and Armada sport utility vehicle scoring last in their categories.

Survey respondents complained about faulty instrument panels, soft brakes and wind noise in the new models, all of which are built at Nissan’s new $1.5 billion Canton, Miss., plant.

The problems in Canton are understandable given the fact that Nissan is launching so many new vehicles so fast in a new plant and with an untested work force, said John Tews, a spokesman for J.D. Power.

“When you have that combination, there’s going to be a lot of growing pains.”

Overall, Nissan finished 11th in the survey, down from sixth place last year. The company’s vehicles averaged 147 problems per 100 vehicles in the first 90 days of ownership, well above the industry average of 119.

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