No break for Bosch

Further slip-ups cause trouble with car manufacturers

Bernd Bohr: "Every mistake leads to improvements"

Stuttgart. Problems with faulty diesel injection pumps have resulted in Bosch making changes in its quality management.

"Due to these incidents we will continue to further refine our quality controls of the materials used," said Bernd Bohr, head of the supplier's automotive division.

"We will undertake the load tests even closer in time to the production that's underway," Bohr told Automobilwoche. "Every mistake leads to improvements as long as one comes to the right conclusions and learns from it."

The supplier took up production of the high-pressure pumps again a few days ago and started to rework the faulty aggregates. The problem affected Mercedes-Benz and BMW, causing both to temporarily stop production, and to a lesser extent Opel, Volkswagen and Audi.

Works council and supervisory board member Werner Neuffer said a total of eight manufacturing lines were set up at plants in Feuerbach, Germany, Bari, Italy, and Jihlava, Czech Republic, to undertake the repair work. Bosch has put together a project team of 400 experienced workers. However, Neuffer believes that it also will be necessary to appoint new members of staff.

The atmosphere is tense at the group's headquarters. The long-established company is experiencing several difficulties with customers within the automotive industry.

1. General Motors last week recalled 155,000 cars in the US because of defective brake assemblies made by Bosch.

2. Mercedes is putting the pressure on Bosch because its electrohydraulic brake system, that was developed by Bosch and is used in E-class and SL-class models, is causing problems.

3. BMW had to replace the engine control in several eight-cylinder models last summer. Bohr says this was "due to a setting-up fault within manufacturing."

The resulting damages are considerable. Mercedes parent DaimlerChrysler wants Bosch to take over the total costs -- estimated at 100 million euros -- caused by the diesel-pump problem. BMW also will discuss compensation related to the diesel pump failure with Bosch management.

Bosch's prospects for demanding compensation from its own supplier are slim. The company concerned, US partsmaker Federal-Mogul of Southfield, Mich., has declared bankruptcy.

The German Society for Quality recently asked both Bosch and the German car industry to seize the opportunity for a quality offensive after the recent incidents. It says the "Made in Germany" seal of quality would otherwise be damaged by the slip-ups.

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