California Autos Examiner

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Chrysler and Quality

Since assuming the top post at Chrysler, Bob Nardelli has impressed me as a man who is concerned about product. Similar to real estate, the three maxims of the auto industry are product, product, product: your company lives or dies on the strength (or weakness) of it. I’ll admit that I was concerned when someone from outside the automotive industry was taking the helm, but to Nardelli’s credit he has set out hiring new blood with impressive credentials and certainly not flinching when it comes to axing non-performing vehicle lines (although I’m still smarting from the loss of the Dodge Magnum). I really enjoy hearing stories of a CEO taking a different vehicle to work each day and pointing out issues when he sees them. Automotive News recently ran a story about Nardelli injecting himself into the issue of a water leak:

It seems that one of Chrysler's newer products had been getting a bad rep because of windows that leak. The matter came to the attention of Nardelli who took a test drive and when it rained, the car leaked. But instead of just sending a memo saying “fix it”, Nardelli took part in an engineering conference call discussing the issue.
Granted, a CEO can’t be involved in the minutia of solving each engineering issue that comes along, but I think it sends a strong message that he cares. At Chrysler unfortunately there are a lot of issues that need care right away. The quality of its cars interiors is woefully lacking when compared to the competition. The company is truck heavy and car light, not a good thing in the current market. Personally I think a lot of its new vehicles lack style as well with notable exceptions being the long in tooth 300 and the hot selling Wrangler Unlimited. What worries me further is scuttlebutt that the next Ram will be dropping its “In your face” styling, a strong differentiator in my book.

This all brings me to one of Chrysler’s latest appointments: Doug Betts, Vice President and Chief Customer Officer. Bett’s duty will be to create or modify the internal culture, processes and organization within Chrysler to ensure that quality and the customer viewpoint is at the forefront. It’s an impressive job description and one that I hope he’ll be able to fulfill. You can hear more Bett’s talk about his thoughts on quality and whatnot in this podcast.

1 comment:

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