When it comes to quality, Chrysler isn’t the first car brand that comes to mind. However, in recent years, the U.S. automaker says it has improved quality and closed the gap between its vehicles and those of Japanese automakers. In fact, Chrysler’s quality chief says the gap has become so small that it no longer should matter to consumers.
"We still benchmark Toyota," Doug Betts, Chrysler's senior vice president of quality, told Automotive News in an interview. "Toyota's very good at reliability. I believe that we have gotten close enough on reliability to Toyota that it shouldn't be a reason for somebody not to buy our cars."
According to the report, Chrysler vehicles earned top honors in four of 21 categories last week in Strategic Vision’s annual Total Quality Index survey, with the Dodge Dart, Dodge Durange, Chrysler 200 convertible and Chrysler Town & Country minivan scoring highest among vehicles in their categories. The survey included 17,568 buyers of 2013 vehicles. For comparison, Toyota topped one category and tied for first in another.
In 2008, before it was acquired by Fiat, Chrysler won only one of 19 categories in the survey. In the past, Chrysler suffered because of production, supplier and ownership turnover issues.
Betts says that Chrysler has improved significantly since its emergence from bankruptcy in 2009. As an example, he mentions the so-called "World Class Manufacturing system" that was installed by Fiat and which lets Chrysler’s line workers fix build-quality issues as they occur, even if that means a delay.
By Dan Mihalascu