Ford: Quality is even with Honda, Toyota

DETROIT -- Ford Motor Co. is trumpeting its quality gains as it launches an advertising campaign designed to get consumers to reconsider its vehicles.

Quality is one of four virtues Ford touts in its new “Drive One” campaign that kicked off Tuesday with commercials on the top-rated TV show, Fox’s “American Idol.”

“In the last three or four years, we’ve really built a strong case to go out to customers and present them with how we’re doing on quality, so we can encourage them to consider Ford products,” said Mark Fields, Ford’s president of the Americas, in an interview last week.

He was speaking from Las Vegas, where executives met with dealers to showcase Ford’s plans for product introductions, marketing and dealer initiatives for the next 12 months.

Ford last week released the results of an internal quality study that executives say shows the automaker’s quality is on par with Honda and Toyota.

The study results for the first quarter show Ford’s domestic brands improved 8 percent from last year with a combined average of 1,284 things-gone-wrong per 1,000 vehicles during the first three months of ownership, according to Ford. That compares with 1,250 things gone wrong for Honda and Toyota. Ford, which commissions RDA Group, of suburban Detroit, to conduct the study, called the results a statistical dead heat.

In addition to quality, the “Drive One” campaign also aims to promote safety features, environmentally friendly initiatives at Ford and smart technology such as the Sync system that allows in-vehicle voice operation of music players and mobile phones.

Ford’s challenge, Fields said, is overcoming “the perception gap on our quality, the perception gap on how green we are, the perception gap around the technology and the features that we have in the vehicle.”

You can reach Amy Wilson at awilson@crain.com

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