Tack­ling qual­ity is­sues at Fiat Chrysler

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - BUSINESS - By Tom Kr­isher AP Auto Writer

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.

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