It's one of those Detroit industry clichés that with every new owner of Chrysler comes a new vow to wage holy war against defects and make the company's quality match the industry's best. Over the past decade, those wars ended in stalemate, with few victories and little progress. Today we have a peek inside Chrysler's latest efforts -- and what might be different this time.
Chrysler's vehicle quality has lagged the rest of the industry for decades, in both independent surveys and customer perception. While that hasn't stopped vehicles such as the Jeep Wrangler from enjoying a revival, it's one of the company's great weaknesses, and a chief reason it can't charge as much for some models as its Detroit rivals.
Jeff Bennett of the Wall Street Journal took a deep dive with the chief of Chrysler's new quality efforts, and while much of what Chrysler says today echoes the past, there's a few notable new lines. One is the commitment from chief executive Sergio Marchionne, who says quality chief Doug Betts can "shut the whole company down" over a quality issue. The other is that Chrysler appears to be spending real money to catch problems; much of its past issues can be traced to penny-pinching with suppliers and engineering.
Chrysler's latest models have improved to mid-pack in some quality results, but thousands of older models still offer reminder of earlier, less careful approaches. The real test will come with the launch of the Dodge Dart, which Chrysler says it will offer with a variety of engines, transmissions and other options that can create more than 100,000 different combinations -- a level of complexity most automakers avoid in new models. We'll know soon whether Chrysler finally got it right.
Other stories this morning:
German auto workers seek 6.5 percent raise: This massive piece from Der Spiegel shows that just like American automakers, German luxury carbuilders increasingly rely on "temporary" or part-time workers who can never earn what their older peers do, despite massive profit growth of the company as a whole. Meanwhile, try to imagine the outcry if the UAW attempted to ask for a raise that large. (Der Spiegel)
Ferrari sales up 11.5 percent; U.S. remains largest market: Ferrari's worst market: Italy, where it sold 121 cars in three months. I'm sure Chrysler could free up some office space in Auburn Hills if it wanted a change of scenery. (PRNewswire)