Why Chrysler's One Voice will mean better products

Dan Knott's launching of One Voice this year is evidence enough that the common-sense supplier relations program was needed because something else had been happening on the ground. Photo credit: GLENN TRIEST

If the first step on the road to recovery is recognizing you have a problem, then Chrysler Group purchasing boss Dan Knott is to be commended for his honesty and bravery.

Knott used last week's Automotive News World Congress to introduce Chrysler Group's One Voice program that will govern its interaction with suppliers. As Knott explains it, Chrysler will gather its internal representatives -- engineering, purchasing, supplier relations, for example -- to meet before it speaks to a supplier.

Those representatives will agree on what the automaker needs from the supplier, then speak with the supplier in a single, unified voice about filling that need.

In the normal world, the one beyond the eternal power tussle between automakers and their suppliers, the boiled-down idea behind One Voice seems like a no-brainer: Say what you mean, and stick to it.

To an engineer such as Knott, doing something different from what is needed to solve a problem is akin to designing a car with square wheels: It's not going to work, so don't waste the time.

Knott's launching of One Voice this year is evidence enough that the common-sense supplier relations program was needed because something else had been happening on the ground. Remember, this is the same company -- albeit under a vastly different administration -- that sued several of its suppliers less than five years ago in a demonstration of how not to have a good partnership.

Chrysler Group executives recognize that the best path to restoring the fortunes of Detroit's smallest automaker is a single-minded dedication to improving vehicle quality. They've made great strides in that regard over the past two years, as any Mopar enthusiast will attest.

Improving quality starts with the companies that make the parts for Chrysler's cars, trucks, SUVs, and crossovers. And it starts with treating suppliers with the common respect, decency, and consistency that partners deserve.

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