@Ford Online recently spoke with Bennie Fowler, group vice president, Global Quality and New Model Launches, regarding the recent J.D. Power Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) study as well as Ford's overall quality story.
Q: What were Ford's results from the J.D. Power APEAL study?
A: It's another great day for Ford, as you can see from these awards. Ford picked up eight top three finishes with the Ford Fiesta and F-150 leading the pack. Other notables in the long list of award winners include the Taurus, Flex, Explorer, F-Series Super Duty, Expedition and Mustang who also took second and third place finishing.
Q: What is the J.D. Power APEAL study?
A: The APEAL looks at things such as styling, fuel economy, safety and the technology advances, and what we saw from the survey is that fuel economy is really resonating with the customer. And that all of our new retail products are really at or above the segment average in the survey, and the customers are saying that they really appreciate Ford's leadership in fuel economy.
Q: Why do you think fuel efficiency is playing such a huge role for customers?
A: I think its no secret that the prices for fuel today are very high and I think our commitment to making sure that we have a complete lineup of vehicles cars, utilities and trucks has really helped us. I think that the work that we've been doing on fuel economy is really resonating with the customers.
Q: F-150 is the only large pickup to receive an award from both Initial Quality and APEAL, what makes F-150 such a stand out vehicle?
A: Customers are saying it's everything. They like the fuel economy and technology, that it's purpose built and they like the fact that its one of the highest quality vehicles. It's just kind of a comprehensive view. The customers are saying that they really like everything about the F-150 – particularly the new V6 EcoBoost™ engine. It was the only vehicle in its segment to be rated above average in fuel economy.
Q: Looking at the recent studies that have come out regarding Ford's quality, what does it say about our products and our overall quality?
A: It says that we have a comprehensive strategy for quality. We really want to be defect free, and we want the Ford DNA and we also look at all of the elements of APEAL to make sure we're able to add content to our vehicles -- things that we're hearing our customers want Fundamentally what is says is that the overall strategy is working and that we should continue the progress that we've made by continuing to focus on what the customers are telling us and make sure that the product lineup really delivers.
Q: Can you share with employees a little about our overall quality message?
A: The one thing that I would like to focus on is that we've been working on becoming the leaders of fuel economy, technology, safety and overall defect free quality. We've pushed the envelope over the last few years to deliver a complete lineup of vehicles.
I think that the strategy that we have for Ford is working. Now, we've had some initial setbacks with MyFord Touch™, but we have a great plan around how we're going to handle customers that already have it and how we're going to be delivering technology advances in the future.
What I'd like to just say to most to employees is that we've have five consecutive years of improvement. So, we know how to deliver quality. I always say we can do it, we can move our quality to the next level.
Now, the business reasons for delivering quality should be readily apparent. What is happening today is we have a higher consideration and the most loyalty of any full-line manufacturers. Quality and the overall comprehensive quality strategy that we have is starting to resonate with customers and its also helping us drive our revenue premium – which is really one of the big gaps that we've had to close over the last 18 months.
The business reasons say that we must deliver a quality promise and deliver our brand promise. What I've also looked at over the last two quarters, and what I've seen from our performance in the second quarter, says that we've made progress in terms of recovering from the key challenges we had in the first quarter and as we look ahead to the third quarter it also suggests that we're going to continue to improve.
That says to me that we will improve; so we can, we must and we will improve quality. That’s the key message for employees to take away.
I just want to congratulate the employees for the progress that we've made over the last five years and looking forward to us ascending to our rightful place as the No. 1 leader in quality around the world.