Tackling quality issues at Fiat Chrysler
DETROIT » Even before the days of flamboyant CEO Lee Iacocca, quality and reliability problems vexed executives at what is now Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.
With few exceptions, the automaker’s brands have finished near the bottom of two closely watched customer surveys done by Consumer Reports and J.D. Power. The problems were as serious as engine and transmission glitches and as mundane as gaps between body parts.
Things got so bad in 2014 that CEO Sergio Marchionne sacked longtime quality chief Doug Betts the day after FCA had a dismal showing in Consumer Reports’ quality rankings. Two successors
split the job, but each was gone in less than two years.
The job now belongs to Scott Garberding, a 23-year company veteran. Some Fiat Chrysler brands have improved in recent surveys. Chrysler and Jeep reduced problems and rose into the top 20 brands ranked by J.D. Power this year. The company didn’t fare as well with Consumer Reports. All its brands were ranked at or near the bottom of 29 auto brands that were tested.
Garberding says the big problems are behind FCA and predicts slow improvement. His answers were edited for length and clarity.