As a brand, Ford this year placed toward the top of the list in J.D. Power’s annual Initial Quality Study, coming in just behind Kia, Genesis, and Porsche. This represents a remarkable turnaround for the company, which consistently found itself toward the middle or back of the pack earlier in the decade.
Automotive News spoke to Ford President of Global Operations Joe Hinrichs about the transformation, who chalks it up to a few moves the automaker made in early 2013, shortly after he was made President of the Americas.
“It really was about total leadership engagement and commitment to being best in class and allowing people the opportunity to tell us what it takes to get there, and then supporting them to do that,” he told Automotive News. “Quality progress doesn’t happen without direct leadership engagement and creating an environment where we can talk about the issues and work to solve them.”
The steps taken by Hinrichs and Ford Motor Company included weekly leadership meetings to discuss quality and consumer feedback, once-a-year “quality summits” where Ford’s whole leadership team would convene to talk about annual plans for each nameplate, and regular sessions for each vehicle to be experienced and scrutinized at each stage of the build process. Those sessions involved Joe Hinrichs, Ford Executive Director of North American Engineering Frank Davis, and whatever launch manager was in charge of that particular product.
Ford also took advice from its suppliers, which told the automaker that its final designs were being produced too late in the launch process.
“We’re working hard to make sure we keep improving,” says Joe Hinrichs. “The competition is not stopping, and we won’t stop either. We want to be best in class.”