• Aug 11th 2008 at 12:31PM
  • 55

Click above for high-res gallery of the 2009 Ford Fiesta

Not wanting to take second place to anyone, especially Toyota, Ford is vowing that its new line of Euro small cars, including the new Fiesta and next-gen Focus, will launch in the U.S. with the best quality in the industry. That's the official word from Bennie Fowler, Ford's VP of Global Quality. To accomplish this goal for the 2010 model year, Ford will send a handful of UAW workers to Wayne State University where they will become certified "Six Sigma Black Belts" (a.k.a. quality experts with the coolest certification ever) and take their learned expertise back to the assembly plants. The industry average right now is about 1,300 problems per 1,000 vehicles. Ford is promising that its new line of small cars from Europe will have just 800 things gone wrong per 1,000 vehicles. It is a target that bests their Japanese rival, but it still leaves us wondering why they wouldn't just aim for zero problems?

[Source: The Detroit News]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 7 Years Ago
      I agree with VinceP. 6 Sigma is nothing more than cutting costs and corners. It's baloney.
      • 7 Years Ago
      DMAIC in the house!
      • 7 Years Ago
      Smart move by Ford. They need to overcome the peception that they aren't Quality Cars. 0.8 defects per car will excede almost all other manufacturers. It is good marketing to advertise that GOAL as soon as possible. And yes, they will lower that goal each year (if they meet it), to continue to try to improve their cars. GM and Chrysler are also shooting for the same GOAL. Americans do build quality cars, union or not.
      • 7 Years Ago
      They'd better get it right. It's basically their last chance. They can't stay open with selling Crown Vics to cops and oldsters.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Ford needs more than Six Sigma if they want to beat Toyota's TPS in terms of being a business. Six Sigma fails to be competitive against TPS on the aspect that it doesnt create a corporate culture of efficiency and defect reduction. Six Sigma does promote efficiency and reducing defects, but those are simply tools and instructions, not a philosophy embraced by the assembly worker to upper management. Ford in the past visited Toyota's plants but instead of taking the culture or the philosophy from the visits, they only observed the machines Toyota used. The bottom line is that this is a labor problem, not a QC problem. If labor was dealt with correctly, QC improvements will follow. Most MBAs have yet to accept this in practice. You can knock on Toyota for their designs or question their reliability, but when you look at their numbers, you cannot deny them of running a successful business.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Sage words. I agree. The Toyota Production System (TPS) is probably much more effective than is Six Sigma.

        From what I've read, what Toyota does is give the employees fantastic training so that they are top notch. Toyota doesn't rely on throwing someone one in the pool and putting them into a sink or swim situation in which the employee learns on his own.

        But I do agree. It will take more than just Six Sigma for Ford to survive. Perhaps Ford should try to steal some key people from Toyota who have internalized the TPS and bring it over to Ford.
      • 7 Years Ago
      You people have no idea of what is going on in the American Auto industry, Thing's have changed a long time ago when it came to quality.
      I bet you did not know that when the Jap's started sending there car's over here that they had two lines at the end of the assembly line. One was for car's with no defect's, and another that defect's, the one's with no defect's were sent to the U.S.A. the other were sold else where.
      • 7 Years Ago
      My wife and I each had a Ford Fiesta back in the early '80's back before we met and got married. They were tiny, and if I leaned against it, I'd dent it, but they were both put through hell and ran like a champ. My wife managed to rack up over 100K miles on hers. And, even though I'm 6'6", I had plenty of legroom. We both think we might just have to check this one out when they hit the showroom.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Keep in mind that TGW includes things the customer is not happy with, even if it isn't 'broken'.
      "Wind Noise", for example, is considered a TGW.
      One could make a good argument that wind noise to the customer is something that has gone wrong. Usually, however, it is a design choice - windshield rake, cowl design, trim gap, etc. Some of it could be mitigated with better fit and finish but some of it can only be addressed by using different (e.g. more expensive) materials, processes or designs. Considering these are small cars, there is a limit to the material quality available.

      Also, a few years ago, the TGW standards were changed to include some subjective items like "How easy is it to operate the radio or climate control?" That's more of a subjective issue, but it is now a TGW issue. I'm not happy with that.

      So, technically, achieving a TGW in this industry is impossible.
        • 7 Years Ago
        But there are never happy and think that their F-150 should have the same superb ride and lack-of wind noise as a Lincoln.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Many of you got it right, zero is not possible given cost structure and targets! This experiment won't work since it has been tried at all auto companies before for simple reason, these new trained folks will NOT have the power to stop the assembly lines. It is all about # per hour produced.......they are kidding themselves for the PR value. The plants will eventually push these new folks out because of the arguing over stopping the lines....

      The issue that the so called Big 3 can not overcome is the legacy costs (pensions and health care) that the foreign manufacturers don't have in todays environment. It is simply a matter of time until either 1 or all 3 must file to get government to pick up these costs to level the playing field. They are starting to run out of assets to sale and can not continue to lose 5-20 billion per year!
      • 7 Years Ago
      With an Industry average of 1300 defects per 1000 vehicles, or 1.3 defects per vehicle, versus Ford's best in class goal of 0.8 defects per vehicle, the average owner will still have about one defect. The results for the best in class through the tenth best range from about 1 to 2 defects per vehicle. Is it really a deal breaker when you go to the dealer to have the first defect fixed that there is also a second defect to fix at the same visit or a later visit? Would you sell out your neighbor who works at GM or Ford because their vehicle had 1.3 defects versus a Japanese product that had 1.1 defects? Apparantly so, because the Japanese are thriving at 1.1 versus the American manufacturers who are dying at 1.3. If you sell fewer cars, you have less money to improve the product and the vicious cycle begins because Americans don't believe in their own products. This country can't survive with its current values.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Go Ford! :)
      • 7 Years Ago
      I've got to admit, that little green booger looks pretty cool. Nice alloy wheels and small things like color-keyed door handles and fog lights go a long way to make a small car look nice.
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