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Quality: How do you get it?

December 13, 2001

Sacramento - Quality became a real serious issue in the automotive industry in the 1980s and at the point where U.S. makers recognized the quality of their vehicles was waning, the quality of Japanese and some European makers was getting better and better. At first there was a quality solution program on every street corner but ISO 9000 tended to get everyone headed in the right direction.

But just as everyone was headed in the right direction toward the attainment of quality standards, someone realized that if you can design and build a vehicle in a shorter period of time you can save a lot of money and beat your competition and then make a lot of money. But, in this rush to get a product to market, does an automaker sacrifice quality?

We think so and we've hinted in the past that this appears to be what Ford's problem has been. Moving quickly to get a product to market, too many shortcuts are taken that later come back to haunt the automaker in expensive recalls and lost reputation.

Japanese automaker Mitsubishi Motors also agrees. This company has suffered some of the worst reputations in the industry, although it is greatly undeserved. In any event, the company is seeking to turn the negative impressions around by lengthening its total vehicle development times by 10 months. Mitsu says the extra time will allow for greater focus on developing the vehicle, and for fixing styling problems.