Ford Exec Anticipates Drop in Quality Ratings

0 Flares 0 Flares ×
Ford JD Power quality ratings decline 2011

Ford's CEO reports that upcoming JD Power study will show overall decline in Ford brand quality

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?

JD Power Quality Study 101

There are two JD Power quality studies that the auto industry pays very close attention to:

  1. The Initial Quality Study, which measures the number of problems reported within the first 90 days of ownership
  2. The Vehicle Dependability Study, which surveys the owners of vehicles which are 3 years old – and which they bought new – and asks the owners for a list of problems they’ve had in the previous 12 months.

Many people in the auto industry contend that JD Power’s Initial Quality Study heavily penalizes manufacturers who innovate. An example might be BMW’s iDrive electronic vehicle control system (similar to the MyFordTouch system, albeit less advanced back in the beginning), which debuted back in 2001. At that time, BMW was the only car company in the world that offered such a sophisticated system, and for that they should be commended.

BMW's iDrive JD Power Quality Ratings

BMW's iDrive system hurt the brand's JD Power Quality Ratings in 2001, partially because consumers didn't understand how to use the system.

However, when BMW released the iDrive system their JD Power quality ratings dropped. The reason? While that first version of the iDrive system definitely could have used some refinement, BMW’s biggest mistake was releasing this system on the 7-series, a vehicle that was most popular with older, less computer-savvy consumers. When JD Power came calling, these new 7 series owners were all too eager to report problems with a system that they didn’t completely understand (and that was often functioning correctly).

This is the same reason that Ford’s CEO anticipates a drop in quality ratings. The new MyFordTouch system really isn’t difficult to use (I like it), but there are some bugs in it…and there probably are some consumers who just don’t “get” the system and assume that it’s broken. Combine the bugs with the consumers who don’t understand and it’s BMW’s iDrive quality rating fiasco all over again.

Of course, Ford’s CEO also mentioned that quality issues with new product launches (Ford released a new Focus, Fiesta, and Explorer) will hurt Ford in JD Power 2011 Initial Quality Ratings.

Whatever the cause, it’s safe to assume that Ford’s rankings in the 2011 JD Power Initial Quality Study will not be good. Why else would Ford’s CEO be apologizing before they’re announced?

Filed Under: Auto News


RSSComments (20)

Leave a Reply | Trackback URL

  1. Mickey says:

    Wow. Can happen to any manufacturer. With all success comes failure. My issue is what Ford is pushing now on commercials. The F-150 gets 756 miles to the tank while showing a short cab version of their F-150. That would mean that truck would have at least a 30 gal tank and the truck gets 25mpg.

  2. mk says:

    ford does have a 34 gallon tank offered in a 6 1/2′ bed length which is good for long trips, but well over 100 bucks per fillup hurts the wallet all at once also. Ford’s touch system is the main reason I will never buy a ford with that product. My neighbors 2011 ford edge has the sync touch and has already brought it back to get fixed/reprogrammed to work better. Unfortunately for me, my days of buying new vehicles may be numbered with more and more mfgs. putting these expensive gizmos on vehicles which I hate just to make a buck off the consumer.

  3. Jason (Admin) says:

    Mickey – Haven’t seen that one, but I bet they say “F-Series” to cover themselves.

    mk – Interesting – I haven’t heard about any my touch problems first hand, but I don’t talk to many new Ford owners.

  4. Justin says:

    The new Explorer has been plagued with various MFT problems. Of course those “fan boys” on the Ford site believe these are no big issue, you’ll always have issues with technology. For me, and my $, if I’m spending the type of cash need to get into one of these vehicles with all this technology and features, it better work right. Don’t release or offer a product that doesn’t work properly.

    I’m with MK though, these are not features I want in my next vehicle. But most MFT systems are options not standard. I’m sure Gen Y or whatever they call them now, may like some of these features. Too me, it’s simply adding one or more new distractions for the driver, which we already have plenty of those. People can’t drive anymore, so lets just throw more distractions at them, great concept.

    Sorry, this is an area Ford is being innovative with, but not an area that appeals to me.

  5. Mickey says:

    I’m not one for sync either. Had a similar system in my 06 Silverado that worked with Verizon and Onstar. For an extra $9 I had it on the truck. I only used it 3x in the 6 months I had it. Not much for the money so I dropped it. Then again I’m not much on cell phones either. I hate that my Tundra has it on the steering wheel. It never fails when I do a U turn I hit the button for it to come on. I either turn it back off or I state cancel for it to shut off. I do like alot of the technology gizmo’s that are put in vehicles these days.

  6. Jason (Admin) says:

    Justin – I appreciate your perspective on the technology – it ought to work right considering how expensive it is. For me, however, I’m OK with some bugs. My new Android 2.2 dual-core cell phone has some minor bugs too, but I’ll gladly cope with them because the benefits outweigh the annoyance.

    I also enjoy the challenge of trying to diagnose these bugs and then come up with work-arounds – probably cause’ I’m a nerd about tech stuff.

    I think that Ford deserves credit for embracing new tech, but it ought to come with a warning: Don’t buy this system unless you’re a tinkerer, because we haven’t really worked out all the bugs.

    I also think your driver distraction argument is a good one – I anticipate that we’ll see safety equipment to address that problem someday.

    Mickey – I hear you about OnStar. My cell phone does 95% of what OnStar does at no extra charge.

  7. ohiodale says:

    I think most computer based products have issues. If the main issue with Fords is Ford Snyc than I think their ratings will go back up next year. These auto ratings never tell you exactly how they rate the cars so they mean absolutely nothing to me. Most people who can afford a car with Ford Sync are old and cannot figure out how to use it. They should have made Ford Sync Lynx based instead of Microsoft. To fix these issues maybe Ford should just install a botton that reboots the system.

  8. Jason (Admin) says:

    ohiodale – Lots of comments there, but overall I agree that Ford’s quality ratings will recover. As they work out the bugs – and as they educate the consumer – the number of problems with MyFordTouch will fall.

  9. Gunnsmoke says:

    I own two Fords with Sync systems. I love the technology and find it easy to use, and I’m in my 50’s. I think the main problem is with the customers who are not tech savvy, or refuse to learn something new.
    The quality of my Fords IMHO are as good or better then any Asian imports.
    Why not support U.S. first? I look for American products in every purchase I make.

  10. Jason (Admin) says:

    Gunsmoke – I hear that. I’d bet there are a lot of consumers who refuse to learn the system but complain anyways.

    I also agree that Ford’s quality is on par with Toyota.

    However, I challenge you to consider this: Many of Ford’s best products (F-series, for example) have fewer parts made in America than comparable Toyota products. Would you rather buy a Tundra with 90%+ domestic content, or an F150 with 40% of the parts made in Mexico? Would you rather buy a new Camry built in Kentucky or a new Fusion built in Hermosillo?

    These are the questions I have for anyone buying Ford products, because I’m guessing a lot of these people don’t realize their product is more “foreign” than a lot of Hondas, Hyundais, and Toyotas…

    See for more info.

  11. Justin says:

    Jason: From what I’ve been researching, many consumer advocates are starting to doubt the actual domestic content of Toyota and Honda vehicles in particular, because of the events in Japan. Logic being used is, why was production of US manufactured vehicles, with such high domestic content, cut, reduced and event haulted for so long, if so few parts actually come from overseas? If these vehicles are made with such high domestic content, the events in Japan would have been a very minor blip on the radar. Of course the domestics, who do have vehicles with higher foreign cotent, continued to chug along with only minor delays, mostly with regards to particular paint pigments.

    Some thoughts have been thrown out, all components of the motor and transmission, as an example, could be built in foreign land, but because they are assembled here domestically, they are considered domestics parts/content.

    I’m not saying this is true or not, but no import site I’ve seen, Toyota nor Honda can explain why the impact was so great on vehicles built here with such high domestic content.

  12. Jason (Admin) says:

    Justin – Almost all of Toyota’s parts problems were caused by a lack of computer chips –

    Toyota, Honda, et al buy most of their chips from Japan. As you can imagine, it’s not easy to spool up a new chip manufacturer overnight, nor is it easy to buy replacements on the open market.

    Another good link:

  13. Justin says:

    Jason: Thanks for the links, I’ll check them out. Was simply stating that is some of the speculation going on. I don’t know all the facts, so can’t say for sure.

  14. Jason (Admin) says:

    Justin – I understand. I was trying to follow this as it happened, and from what I learned the biggest problem for Toyota has been the chips needed for the stability/traction/rollover systems. Evidently they got all of those from one or two suppliers in Japan that were hit especially hard.

    As you well know, one part can stop an entire line. 🙂

  15. Angel Jimenez says:

    It is normal that the quality of the Ford products are decreasing. This is done intentionally.
    All Electronics products are being build or are being relocated to China.
    The parts in China have a lower quality but are cheap so Ford is taking this into to account and for granted.
    The financial crisis has put Ford into this so they sell at the same price the car but the electronics and other product are build in China were they know the PPM rate of failure is very high and now there will be a lot of cars being returned for failures but they know that even so the benefits will be higher(we now off course that this is only short term).
    They are closing now an important and historical electronics plant in Cadiz, Spain which produce electronics products of a very high quality with almost 0 PPM. They are relocating to China…Cadiz Electronica did the production of the engine control for 20 years for Ford, the clusters, anti-theft system, etc…
    Quality is not important for Ford anymore…
    PPM : Parts Per Million

  16. Cadiz says:

    Jason:I don´t know what is exactly the cause of low quality in Ford vehicles but like Visteon worker(we are working with FORD 20 years ago) I sure that both, FORD and VISTEON are manufacturing his products in low cost countries, sacrificing the quality by the price. I work in Visteon Cadiz Electronica in Spain, manufacturing high quality products until reach levels of 1 ppm(one part per million bad). However, Visteon has decided close this plant and go China to manufacturing at low cost and low quaity.

  17. Justin says:

    Have you seen this yet?

    Volkswagen, Ford lead in U.S. auto quality survey

    Strategic Vision, who has completed such a survey for the past 16yrs, doesn’t agree with JD Powers assessment. Evidently from the customers point of view, there is no real lack of quality either. Just tech glitches that every software experiences, and is rectified quickly by dealers and Ford.

    So what would people here say when Toyota decides to release similar tech products as to Fords MFT and Sync? When it goes through its growing pains? Will it be a shrug of the shoulders and no big deal, or will it be looked at in the same light as Ford? I feel at least on this forum, it’ll be looked at as the former.

  18. Jason (Admin) says:

    Angel – I’ve read that some Chinese-made parts are lower quality, but from what I understand most of the JD Power Ford quality problems had to do with their new computer system.

    Justin – I’ve never been a fan of Strategic Vision. In my mind, the concept is flawed: It’s not about what problems the vehicle did or did not have, it’s about how the owner “feels” about those problems. I don’t care how people feel – I just care about actual issues.

    Also, I don’t think I said anything bad about Ford here because they’ve chosen to try out some new technology. If anything, I think I’ve complimented them for trying something new. I like MyFordTouch and I’d love to see Toyota put out a similar system. Unfortunately, Toyota is much too conservative to push something like this out without lots and lots of testing first.

  19. Marjorie says:

    I’m curious to find out what blog system you’re

    utilizing? I’m experiencing some minor security problems with my latest website and I would like to find something more safe. Do you have any solutions?

  20. It is appropriate time to make some plans for the future and it is time to be
    happy. I’ve read this post and if I could I wish to suggest you some interesting things or
    tips. Maybe you could write next articles referring to this article.

    I wish to read more things about it!

0 Flares Twitter 0 Facebook 0 Google+ 0 Email -- 0 Flares ×