At ford, quality is problem number 1.

HuntingPudel

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“He said workers rallied to fix problems when they blew up, but weren’t empowered to flag them early in the process when there was still time to head them off.”

I guess nobody was empowered to flag the PWM circuit in the early IP display, the HVBJB, or the main battery bus for the GTs. 🤷‍♂️😱🐩
 

Guss-E 2021

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Interesting article. I was actually aware of much of this. I had a 2009 Ford Fusion that was in the shop all the time vs my '99 Corolla that only ever had oil changes, brakes and tire work before being sold with 220k on the odometer. Electric cars have far fewer parts and no exhaust (the Fusion' s exhaust issues cost me over $2k out of pocket) so I'm trying my luck with Ford again.

However, for the first time ever, I bought the base level extended warranty due to getting only the 2nd model year of a vehicle that relies heavily on a large amount of technology.

I'm 4,000 miles in after just two months. Mileage I normally would not see for four months (based on previous driving habits). Driving is fun again. No fumes, way less noise, new tech and no guilt about wasting gas have all added up to more driving. I would love to make it a few years without an issue. Or at least until I can trade in for a future LFP version with hopefully higher voltage architecture.
 

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“He said workers rallied to fix problems when they blew up, but weren’t empowered to flag them early in the process when there was still time to head them off.”

I guess nobody was empowered to flag the PWM circuit in the early IP display, the HVBJB, or the main battery bus for the GTs. 🤷‍♂️😱🐩
Precisely. The MME is a very good car today. But imagine what it will be down the line with further refinement and the instituting of all that article discussed. Ford can do this, it just has to focus (pun intended).
 

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Yes, Ford quality has really been a struggle in recent years. I'm glad to see they're working on it, they have to in order to survive. Hopefully they have a reward system for employees that report the most problems the earliest. I think the previous culture was "don't make waves or delays" and that's ended up costing them in the long run. There were too many new models and complete redesigns in a short time. But whoever decided to electrify the F150 while retaining the same platform commonality is a genius, had Ford done a clean-sheet electric pickup it would have probably been a disaster that cost a Ford a lot of reputation. Other than supply and scale problems, the Lightning launch seems to be going fairly well from a quality standpoint compared to the Mach-E.

Several years in, the quality of the latest module software in the Mach-E is now finally at the level it should have been at launch. Some of that was expected, but I think we all agree it's taken a lot longer than anticipated. There are still some things I'd like to see improved in software that JD Power won't catch in their quality surveys. That's why it's still important to involve customers in the discussion, especially in regards to EV stuff.

I'd also like to see a greater emphasis on testing at Ford. A rigorous pre-production testing program would have likely caught a lot of the software glitches and powertrain issues much earlier. In contrast to the Mach-E, they really tested the crap out of the Lightning which reveled a motor overheating issue during high ambient towing. They ended up redesigning the motor and switched to a standard AWD configuration to eliminate that issue, averting disaster after launch when it could have been a major customer issue like our HVBJB issues.
 


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Sadly, the article is behind the WSJ paywall so not available to people using the “free” version of Apple News”.
Anyway, I seem to remember ford making a big deal out of all the testing they did of the vehicle before launch. Remember the videos they showed of people driving the vehicle around some test track in some Nordic country? And there were the videos of the people driving the cars all around Death Valley? And the dude who was leading software development specifically said that he never carried a key - he just carried his phone and “tossed it on the charging pad”. In all those videos, they made it sound like they beat the crap out of the cars during real world road testing. And nobody had problems with PAAK? Nobody had any HVBJB failures? And most importantly, nobody noticed that the remote frunk release was missing? 😀
Something isn’t adding up here.
 

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Sadly, the article is behind the WSJ paywall so not available to people using the “free” version of Apple News”.
Anyway, I seem to remember ford making a big deal out of all the testing they did of the vehicle before launch. Remember the videos they showed of people driving the vehicle around some test track in some Nordic country? And there were the videos of the people driving the cars all around Death Valley? And the dude who was leading software development specifically said that he never carried a key - he just carried his phone and “tossed it on the charging pad”. In all those videos, they made it sound like they beat the crap out of the cars during real world road testing. And nobody had problems with PAAK? Nobody had any HVBJB failures? And most importantly, nobody noticed that the remote frunk release was missing? 😀
Something isn’t adding up here.
Two things here: they could have very well done all this testing, (other than the PAAK thing, that has to be false). The incidence rate of HVJB failure still has to be less than 2 percent at this point. It would have been very possible that the issues with the miles accumulated in the test vehicles prior to release, it just didn't come up. But it doesn't change the fact that there is a serious design defect.
 
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Sadly, the article is behind the WSJ paywall so not available to people using the “free” version of Apple News”.
Anyway, I seem to remember ford making a big deal out of all the testing they did of the vehicle before launch. Remember the videos they showed of people driving the vehicle around some test track in some Nordic country? And there were the videos of the people driving the cars all around Death Valley? And the dude who was leading software development specifically said that he never carried a key - he just carried his phone and “tossed it on the charging pad”. In all those videos, they made it sound like they beat the crap out of the cars during real world road testing. And nobody had problems with PAAK? Nobody had any HVBJB failures? And most importantly, nobody noticed that the remote frunk release was missing? 😀
Something isn’t adding up here.
 
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Mach-n-ev-er

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I will try and copy it so all can read it.
 
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Mach-n-ev-er

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At Ford, Quality Is Now Problem 1


Ford used to tout the reliability of its vehicles in ads. After a string of recalls, the auto maker is trying to change how it finds problems.


Josh Halliburton joined Ford Motor Co. in January to help improve its shaky quality record. Within months it was clear how big a challenge he faced.


In May, the auto giant recalled some Ford Expeditions and Lincoln Navigators after reports of fires while vehicles were parked. In June, it recalled roughly 49,000 Mustang Mach-E electric SUVs over concerns that the battery contactors could overheat and cause the vehicle to lose power. In the first seven months of the year, Ford had 46 separate safety recalls on 6.8 million vehicles, more than any other U.S. auto maker.


“That’s not good enough,” said Mr. Halliburton, Ford’s newly hired executive director of quality. “We want to be a quality leader.”


An auto maker once touted for its quality record—“Quality is Job 1” was its slogan for much of the 1980s and 1990s—is betting that Mr. Halliburton can help restore its reputation. The 46-year-old executive comes from auto research firm J.D. Power, where he advised companies on production quality, and his strategy at Ford is to improve how the company identifies problems. He is installing video cameras to catch flaws while products are being built, adding more monitoring of social media to find complaints flagged by customers and pressing workers to raise their hands early about design and production challenges.


The task of this new quality czar is central to the company’s larger ambition to challenge Tesla Inc. and other rivals for electric-vehicle superiority in the years ahead. The billions of dollars Ford spends each year on warranty repairs and recalls make it more difficult to reach its goal of shaving $3 billion in annual costs by 2026 and free up spending for new electric-vehicle models, battery plants and manufacturing plants. Last year Ford set aside more than $4 billion for warranty costs, up 76% from five years earlier. Its total warranty expenses increased about 17% from 2016 to 2021.


The problems also raise the stakes for the 119-year-old company as it tries to snatch new customers interested in EVs. Chris Spears, a 34-year-old customer service manager for an oil-and-gas company and Mustang Mach-E owner, said the latest recall of his vehicle gave him second thoughts about the brand after purchasing Ford vehicles for years.


“Maybe next time we need to take a look at a different manufacturer,” said Mr. Spears, who lives in the Dallas area.


Quality problems have long been a drag on the company’s bottom line. Ford took hefty charges against its earnings several times in the last decade to address issues, and it contended with bungled new-model launches that led to delays. When Chief Executive Jim Farley took over in October 2020, he made quality a top priority, pledging to lower warranty-related costs and earn back customers’ trust.


“For these new and very desirable vehicles, you don’t want to see problems right out of the gate,” said David Whiston, an analyst for Morningstar Inc. “That implies a problem with either design, engineering or manufacturing execution.”


The problems continued in 2021. That year Ford allocated $1,041 per vehicle for covering warranty claims compared with $713 per vehicle for larger rival General Motors Co., according to an analysis by Warranty Week, a trade newsletter for warranty management professionals. Ford said it can be difficult to compare companies because each reports warranty data differently, but didn’t dispute the accuracy of the Warranty Week analysis. GM didn’t dispute the numbers, either.


This year, in addition to the recalls, auto-safety regulators also opened a defect investigation into 2021 Ford Broncos after receiving reports of what an auto-safety regulator called “catastrophic engine failures” at highway speeds.


“We continue to be hampered by recalls and customer satisfaction actions,” Mr. Farley said in a July earnings call. “This affects our cost but more importantly, it falls short on our most fundamental commitment to our customers.”


The hiring of Mr. Halliburton is part of the latest attempt to find a solution. His arrival came three months before the creation of a Transformation and Quality Office that stands independent from operations and is led by Stuart Rowley, who reports to the CEO and is now chief transformation and quality officer. Mr. Halliburton reports to Mr. Rowley and leads the 200 people within Ford’s quality organization.


A n electrical engineer by training, he has long enjoyed tinkering with old cars and motorcycles in his spare time, said former colleague Dave Sargent, who has known him since 2007.


He also worked for Ford before, from 2000 to 2004, as a launch engineer. After he left the company, he stayed connected. While he worked as a consultant with research firm J.D. Power, his job was to help clients improve their production quality. He assisted with improvements in more than 100 factories around the world, and Ford was among his clients.


“They knew what they were buying before they bought it,” said Mr. Sargent.


Those who worked with Mr. Halliburton at J.D. Power, where over 17 years he rose to become vice president of global consulting and head of European operations, described him as collaborative, decisive and a quick wit. “He’s pretty gregarious, especially for a quality engineer,” said Mr. Sargent, a vice president of connected vehicles at J.D. Power.


One of the challenges he identified at Ford was that it tried to make too many last-minute design and engineering changes ahead of a new-vehicle launch, increasing the risk of problems down the line. He said workers rallied to fix problems when they blew up, but weren’t empowered to flag them early in the process when there was still time to head them off.


“It wasn’t a top priority,” he said. “Everyone wants to make sure they can hit the targets we are aiming to achieve. If the goal was to launch on time, we were often focused on getting to launch versus prioritizing quality.”


It’s important, he said, to reward those people who do find problems early. “We are aligning specific objectives to the directly responsible individuals for the aspects of quality they are in control of,” he said. “Thus making it much more clear how each person directly fits into our quality goals.”


SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS


What can Ford do to truly compete with Tesla? Join the conversation below.


To comment, you’ll need to be on WSJ.com


J ake Fisher, senior director for automotive testing at Consumer Reports, said Ford has too many new-model launches bunched together and often makes more substantive changes in its redesigns, while other car companies use more carry-over parts. Rolling out a new model is fraught with difficulties for any car company, so the closer the launches are together in timing, the more complicated they become, Mr. Fisher said.


“They make a lot of changes very quickly, and then go for a time without making any changes at all,” Mr. Fisher said. Mr. Halliburton said vehicle-launch strategy is part of the problem but not the whole problem.


Changing how Ford tests its products is another part of his strategy. Ford recently installed video cameras to monitor the early build of their vehicles—before production—to target any steps they can eliminate or simplify. Higher tech cameras are now used to inspect the vehicles for quality, too, allowing workers to scour for an incorrectly placed hose or a paint blemish, Mr. Halliburton said.


“We are placing more time and emphasis on ensuring everything is done right upfront to prevent quality issues from manifesting later in the development process,” he added.


The quality czar is also paying more attention to customers who highlight problems on social media. The company has an “Always On” team that monitored different platforms during the launch of Ford’s Mustang Mach-E and sometimes engaged with customers about their complaints. That team has since expanded its scrutiny to conversations about other models, such as the electric F-150 Lightning pickup, traditional gas-engine F-150 and Bronco. The team also tracks for any trends about complications.


How Ford compares itself to rivals in quality has changed, too. It now sets its quality targets against the benchmarks of its competitors, he said. One example, he said, is the quality of Ford’s Bronco SUV as compared with the Jeep Wrangler.


Mr. Halliburton said he expects to see Ford’s warranty problems improve next year, but it may take two to three years to see the most impactful results. With that, he expects to also mend Ford’s reputation with frustrated customers.


“I knew it would be an interesting challenge to tackle,” he said.


Corrections & Amplifications


Ford recalled roughly 49,000 Mustang Mach-E electric SUVs in June over concerns that the battery contactors could potentially overheat and cause the vehicle to lose power An earlier version of this article incorrectly said the vehicles were recalled because of concerns that the battery could overheat. (Corrected on Aug. 6)
 

Carsinmyblood

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Can we all hold hands and recall the day a Tesla's roof blew off on the way home from the showroom?

They have since become the #1 EV maker.

The market can absorb a LOT of abuse.
 

Jimrpa

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Two things here: they could have very well done all this testing, (other than the PAAK thing, that has to be false). The incidence rate of HVJB failure still has to be less than 2 percent at this point. It would have been very possible that the issues with the miles accumulated in the test vehicles prior to release, it just didn't come up. But it doesn't change the fact that there is a serious design defect.
I fully agree. The lack of a remote frunk release IS a serious design defect and Ford needs to finally admit it and fix it! 😀

 

 
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