Chrysler sets goal to be quality leader by 2012

Chrysler has come to terms with the fact that the line has suffered from quality shortcomings, and says it is openly discussing and tackling problems in a new light. Chrysler has set ambitious goals to become a quality leader by 2012, and has already begun significant changes to help make the lofty goal a reality.

In an interview with The Detroit News highlighting changes in structure and culture, Doug Betts, senior vice president in charge of quality for Chrysler said, "It's different now. People are talking openly about problems now and how to fix (them)."

Despite Chrysler's aggressive goals for quality improvement, Chrysler is still drawing doubts on its overall survival from the likes of critics such as Senator John McCain.

Chrysler Group LLC is standing firm that it intends to be a true quality leader by the end of 2012 due to a significant structure change in terms of how Chrysler addresses and engineers quality. Chrysler also points towards more stringent internal standards, as well as making a significant effort to change long-entrenched company culture in regards to quality.

Betts pledged that Chrysler has company-wide support to achieve their crucial new goal, and that includes tangible changes in the structure and size of the department responsible for quality.

Chrysler's new CEO, Sergio Marchionne of Fiat, has played a key role in Chrysler's laser-focus on quality moving forward. Chrysler is in the process of hiring 200 additional engineers that will be dedicated to quality - bringing the quality team total to 1,700 personnel.

In addition to the increase in raw numbers of quality personnel, Chrysler is also breeding a change in culture that involves "cross-functional" teams that are involved in all departments. This change is aimed at increasing communication and addressing problems in all areas - not just having the quality team find and address potential quality issues.

Recent changes in quality commitments are believed to be responsible for reducing engineering-related defects from 75% to only only 50% responsible when compared to manufacturing causes. Improvements in quality are also being noticed by Fiat as they are now looking to borrow a page from Chrysler's latest chapter in the quality story by integrating the "cross-functional" teams at Fiat.

In addition to the team Fiat is also considering the use of new software that Chrysler developed to track parts movement and identify problems within the plants.