Ford’s quality problem: Is it Euro-design?

Ford’s PR Still Works Perfectly: Ford would like you to believe its troubling decline in the J.D. Power “Initial Quality” survey a)  reflects teething problems with its fancy new MyFord Touch control system and b)  that these problems are being fixed. The press pays too much attention to this J.D. Power survey anyway–“initial quality” being a lot less important than long term longevity. The problem is a) the quality problems are not restricted to MyFord Touch b) there is some evidence that they are systemic [scroll up and down] c) they crop up in surveys other than J.D. Power. … Understory:  In recent years, smaller Fords have often been based on solid Mazda-designed platforms. But the new Focus and Fiesta are European designs. The great fear, quite simply, is that these new Euro cars will suck, reliability-wise. … See earlier item on how Ford’s troubles complicate our politicized reactions to the auto bailouts. …

  • richard_conrad

    I do think it could be both. It appears that reliability is a low bar in europe (See: BMW, Volvo, Audi, Mercedes, VW, Fiat, every continental european carmaker that has ever existed-haven’t even started with the british car makers). The flip side of that is I think there might be less variance in the quality of mechanics (the flip side of a rigid labor market-not a good trade off in my book, but a trade off). I lived in Germany for a bit and they tend to be much more meticulous about everything so you will probably see much fewer repairs stemming from poor maintenance/neglect (by fewer I think a factor of a million- car ownership is less pervasive for a number of reasons thus the median car owner is going to be that much more persnickety). Also, overall use is much lower. I remember once my german host brother was arguing that Audis were so reliable that they would last for 10 years and up to 100,000 km. I agreed with his assemsent of 100,000 km and pointed out to him that in America that was piss poor. For a typical american that is a 5 year car and for some one commuting from the exurbs that is a 3 year car. All of this is a very longwinded way of theorizing why Ford’s european quality control might not be quite up to snuff.

  • richard_conrad

    There is a problem with your theory. The two cars that you site are in fact based on mazda platforms (the 2 and 3 are their platform mates). That is not to say there aren’t plenty of other areas where ford’s european engineers could muck things up. Or ford’s american engineers adapting the european engineers work to an american audience. For an example of the latter see the ford contour/mercury mystique.

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