How Ford’s making sure quality is Job 1 once again – Roadshow

Ford has had a rough go of it in recent years, but hopefully the automaker is turning a quality corner. 


Ford

Decades ago, Ford’s tagline famously read, “Quality is Job 1.” The motto neatly summarized the automaker’s efforts to build long-lasting, trouble-free vehicles. Through the 21st century, however, the blue-oval has fallen short of this standard with a rather lengthy list of vehicle problems, issues that even affect 2021 models.

None of this gives a very good impression of the venerable automaker, which has 117 years of experience building cars. But Ford brass promises things are about to change. Product quality will be “a reason customers buy a Ford,” Hau Thai-Tang, Ford’s chief product platform and operations officer said during a Tuesday conference call. Advanced technologies, modernization and “benchmarking against the best” are just a few ways Ford sees itself in a positive transitionary period, according to Thai-Tang.

Myriad problems torpedoed Ford’s reputation in recent years. Most infamously, the introduction of the overhauled Ford Explorer and reincarnated Lincoln Aviator SUVs a couple years ago was nothing short of disastrous. Built in Chicago, many of these vehicles had to be shipped to the company’s factory in Flat Rock, Michigan to correct various manufacturing issues, undoubtedly at great expense. Even after the logistical and quality nightmares, the Explorer boasts a whopping 11 recalls and the Aviator at least nine. Half a dozen recalls plague the latest Escape and its platform cousin, the Bronco Sport, features three recalls in its first year on sale. The Mustang Mach-E and latest F-150, the company’s crown jewel, were both subject to pauses for additional quality checks.

The Explorer launch a few years ago wasn’t Ford’s finest hour.


Ford

Dave Filipe, vice president of vehicle hardware modules, acknowledged the company’s issues, underscoring it saying “we’ve had some tough challenges in recent years.” Now, Ford’s doing its up-front homework the right way, the first time. This includes leveraging vehicle connectivity data to let product development folks understand how Ford drivers use their vehicles. In turn, engineers can do their jobs better to satisfy customers.

Filipe pointed to its upcoming F-150 EV as a prime example. “Anyone can come up with a pickup truck as a BEV (battery-electric vehicle),” he said, but he underscored Ford knows exactly how an F-150 integrates into a customer’s life. 

Ford made a down payment on this ethos this week with a $185 million investment for the new Ford Ion Park battery-development center. As the automaker transitions to more electric cars and trucks, the facility will host a dedicated bunch of 150 people — including folks working in quality control. With renewed emphasis, hopefully Ford can shine up its tarnished reputation and make Quality Job 1 again. 


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