Quality problems must be fixed, Fiat Chrysler CEO says – Detroit Free Press
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne said the company was already planning to make a leadership change to the management of quality before Consumer Reports published a reliability study on that placed four Chrysler brands at the bottom of the survey.
On Tuesday, the company announced that Doug Betts, vice president of quality, would be leaving the company. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles named Mark Chernoby as its new head of quality and named Matthew Liddane as head of quality for Chrysler.
The announcement came one day after the influential magazine released its report.
“We were making leadership choices on the same day that the information came out,” Marchionne said during a conference call with analysts on Wednesday. “The function is being restructured.”
Nevertheless, Marchionne said the Consumer Reports survey revealed problems that the company must address.
All of Chrysler’s brands fell in this year’s rankings with Dodge, Ram, Jeep and Fiat as the four lowest-ranked brands. Among specific models, the Fiat 500L finished last.
“I am not taking issue with the survey itself, other than it is clear that we have focused on the wrong things in dealings with some parts of the customer base,” Marchionne said. “We need to go back in and fix that perception because I know that from an engagement standpoint the whole house has been driven in a completely different direction that those surveys are indicating. So we have an absolutely mismatch of internal evaluation and commitment.”
Betts, who joined Chrysler in 2007, was part of Marchionne’s top management team since 2009 when Fiat became a controlling shareholder of the company. He also served on Fiat Chrysler Automobiles powerful Group Executive Council and was in charge of quality for Fiat.
The Consumer Reports survey was not the first study that illustrated problems with Chrysler’s quality.
In June, Jeep and Fiat were the two lowest-ranked brands in J.D. Power’s Initial Quality Study and Chrysler was below average. That study measures problems experienced by owners in the first 90 days of ownership. Chrysler also ranked below average in J.D. Power’s most recent Vehicle Dependability Study, which measures problems experienced by consumers over a three-year period.
“I don’t doubt at all the reliability of the data,” Marchionne said of the Consumer Reports study. “I just think we need to fix the perception and the reality problem and we will do that with the change in leadership…I think that we will fix it and fix it quickly.”
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