October is Quality Month. Focus on Quality displays throughout the Auburn Hills Complex are giving employees a chance to see, feel and learn about quality improvements across the brands. The displays included vehicles representing cars and minivan, the Jeep® brand, and Dodge trucks, including the new Chrysler Aspen Hybrid.
Hank DeSamper, Quality Manager for the Car and Minivan Product Team, said the focus on Dodge Challenger and the Chrysler Sebring created a real employee buzz.
Quality Manager—Car and Minivan Product Team
People standing around and talking about the various things, and really looking at it and saying, “Oh, yeah. That is a lot better. Oh, I like what they did there,” and, “Gee, this car is a lot different than when it was launched a year ago. So I think there’s positive impact. They’re seeing the changes we’re doing. These changes were driven by customer inputs, so they know that we’re addressing the right things. They’re talking about the displays and the cars, and that’s really the whole idea—to put that focus on quality.
Let’s talk about each of these vehicles. What about the Challenger?
Challenger was the car that was most recently launched, so during the development phases we’ve done a lot of fixes. On performance quality for the Challenger — a couple of big things we did there was a 30 horsepower increase on the 5.7 engine, as well as a 30 foot-pound torque increase—all while improving highway fuel economy by 8 percent. So that really helps us all the way around on that performance metric. But the big thing on Challenger that we focused on is the perceived quality. That’s kind of the things that—it’s not broken but just doesn’t look nice, the customer doesn’t think it’s really up to where it should be. Things like body fits, and things like that. What we did on the Challenger, especially, was the engine compartment, because it’s kind of a showpiece car and people sit around in driveways with their hoods open and talk about it and look at each other’s engines, and there’s that whole kind of thing going on. So we did a lot of things to dress up the engine compartment that we added back into the car to, you know, hide things like exposed bolts, and that kind of stuff.
And what about the Sebring? That also got a fair number of changes.
With Sebring we really made some great strides in the ordinary quality, which is directly based on our warranty. We improved over 200 c/per 1000 since the launch year. That’s ’07 to just to’08 in one year. The other big improvement was in the J.D. Power IQS satisfaction surveys. We had a 59 point improvement from 2007 to 2008, and we’ve got about 35 more points that we’re projecting over the next couple years of things that we still haven’t gotten in yet. And that was kind of the other point of the displays. We mentioned some of the things that are coming in the future that we don’t have necessarily yet. So there’s a lot more to come.
How many more customer-driven ideas are you getting? Is the list growing and growing?
Yeah, the list continues to grow. We’ve focused on what’s called the Voice of the Customer now for all of our development programs where we’re really going out and doing clinics, and various types of things all across the country to understand what customers really want. In-depth comparisons of the competitive vehicles and where they score, and reflect that the customer really likes those features. And then really talking to the customers themselves through these clinics to get what they really want into the car. It’s really good to see these displays so you can understand what types of quality you can impact most. That’s what we’re really trying to do. Get everybody to focus on quality. We even have little sticky dots that you can put on the different types of quality to show which ones you impact. We want to get everybody thinking about – you know, it’s two of the key pillars –- Customer First and Quality … Period. So that’s what we’re really trying to do –- is expose this to everybody –- get them excited about the quality changes, and get them thinking about how they impact quality on a day-to-day basis.
Reporting for Audio Scoop, I’m Betty Carrier Newman.