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Chrysler Aims to Top Quality Surveys by 2012

Posted: Nov 20, 2009 09:32 a.m.

Ford may have made the slogan "Quality is job one," famous, but Chrysler is taking it to heart.

The Detroit News reports, "Chrysler Group LLC is backing claims that it will be a quality leader by the end of 2012 with a revamped, refocused and much larger quality team, tougher standards and a commitment to achieving sustainable quality gains crucial to its long-term success by changing company culture."

Autoblog acknowledges that the quality climb will be a steep one for Chrysler. "A quick glance at recent Consumer Reports or JD Power data shows that the Pentastar has a big problem on its hands," but "Chrysler is planning to be a quality leader in only three years by dramatically increasing staffing levels in its quality team while working to dramatically clean up its engineering processes."

Left Lane News reports, "Chrysler is in the process of hiring 200 additional engineers that will be dedicated to quality – bringing the quality team total to 1,700 personnel."

The changes aren't just in staffing levels. Doug Betts, senior vice president in charge of quality at Chrysler, who was hired away from Nissan, has also implemented cross-functional quality teams, the Detroit News says. According to the News, the teams "include representatives from all departments, instead of handing off problems from one department to another, which delayed any action for an average 71 days. Quality teams are not organized by vehicle now, but by area of expertise, such as brakes. And since the members of the 14 teams didn't design the part or create the problem, they can objectively tackle fixing it without fear of recrimination. "

Chrysler has an uphill battle ahead of it. The Detroit News says, "Demand for Chrysler products is down 38.9 percent this year, compared to 25.4 percent for overall U.S. auto sales in one of the worst markets in decades. Chrysler must strengthen its reputation and knows promises to do better won't be enough. Validation is needed from independent sources such as Consumer Reports magazine recommending Chrysler models."

And success isn't guaranteed.  Despite government support, there are those, including Senator John McCain, Left Lane News reports, who think Chrysler may not survive. McCain told the Detroit News, “It was all about the unions. The unions didn’t want to have their very generous contracts renegotiated so we put $80 billion into both General Motors and Chrysler, and anybody believes that Chrysler is going to survive, I’d like to meet them."

If you're in the market for a new car, check out the U.S. News rankings of this year's best cars, as well as this month's best car deals.