Jason Lancaster is the editor and founder of TundraHeadquarters.com. He has nearly a decade of experience on the retail side of the auto industry, and another decade of experience of the part and accessory side of the industry.
Following last week’s news about Ford’s likely drop in the 2011 JD Power Initial Quality study (which is due out this Thursday), there’s more news about some of the quality problems Ford CEO Alan Mulally was concerned about. In the same press conference that Mulally warned about declining quality, he talked about some new robotic systems for makeing sure that doors were installed properly on all new vehicles. Was this bit of news shared to show that Ford is addressing a common concern with their products – specifically, wind noise?
A few months ago (February) we posted a video of a some “person” jumping his Chevy truck head-on into a dirt mound (video below) – along with another Chevy truck guy jumping his truck so hard he flipped it – and we asked “Are All Chevy Truck Guys This Dumb?‘ because these two videos were stupifying.
Imagine my surprise when there’s yet ANOTHER Chevy owner pulling off a stupid truck jumping trick:
Unbelievable. What’s worse, the truck actually broke on impact. Insert GM quality joke here.
Chevy guys – what the heck is going on?
Ford CEO Alan Mulally told reporters that he expects a “mixed” performance in JD Power’s 2011 Vehicle Quality Ratings, which are due out later this month. According to Automotive News:
Ford last quarter missed quality targets because of glitches in new models and high-tech, touch-screen dashboard controls…introducing new models such as the Focus and Fiesta small cars have stressed Ford’s manufacturing and engineering systems
Ford owners with the “MyFordTouch” system – an electronic touch-screen based control system for many vehicle systems like the stereo and climate controls – have reported screens “blanking out,” and the system has received poor reviews from both Consumer Reports and The New York Times.
The question is, are problems with new models and fancy electronics going to seriously hurt Ford’s quality ratings at JD Power, or is this warning much ado about nothing?
In an article titled “What Happened To The Tundra,” website AutoSavant.com offered a reasoned analysis of the pickup truck market, and – based on sales figures and market share – singled out the Toyota Tundra as underperforming.
While there are definitely some arguments to be made about Toyota mis-steps with the Tundra (everything from bad tailgate design to bed bounce / ride quality complaints to failing air injection pumps), it’s impossible to say that the Tundra is failing for two reasons:
1. None of the market share numbers offered in the AutoSavant number discount fleet sales.
2. Fleet sales should never be considered equal to retail sales, because fleet sales are dominated by the lowest cost product. Quality, reliability, etc. have nothing to do with fleet sales.
NOTE: If you’d like to argue my second point, read about why fleet sales don’t compare to retail sales before you do so.
The question is, if we take out fleet sales, how does Tundra market share look?
Yesterday, Ford announced plans to produce an eight speed automatic transmission. According to Mike Levine of PickupTrucks.com, it’s expected that the F-150 will receive this eight speed as soon as 2014. What’s more, Levine noted on Twitter that he expected “GM’s next-gen 2014 light-duty Silverado and Sierra will also offer an 8-speed transmission.”
We’ve been keeping a tally of possible and probable enhancements to the 2014 Toyota Tundra here, a list we’ve made based on comments given to us by sources, notes from news stories, etc. You’ll note that we don’t believe Toyota will be developing an 8-speed transmission for the 2014 Tundra, and quite frankly I’m not sure that Ford’s announcement changes this assessment. While 8 speeds are clearly better than 6, the relative improvements are small.
According to Ford engineer Joe Bakaj, an eight speed transmission boosts fuel economy “2 to 6 percent,” a substantial improvement to be sure, but is it worth the additional expense and complexity?