Nissan's quality glitch: N.A. suppliers
YOKOHAMA, Japan -- Nissan Motor Co. plans to increase sharply its output of cars and trucks in North America. But that plan could carry a risk to Nissan's hard-won gains in quality because internal data show its suppliers in North America account for a disproportionate share of its quality problems that can be traced to suppliers' deliveries.
North American suppliers accounted for about 70 percent of Nissan's "global delivery nonconformity" count -- a measure of faulty parts shipments -- in the fiscal year that ended March 31, 2011. Suppliers from all other regions, including Europe, Japan and Southeast Asia, accounted for the rest.
In 2011 Nissan produced 1.17 million vehicles in the United States and Mexico, or a quarter of its global output of 4.63 million units.
The results were shown to reporters Jan. 26 as part of Nissan's annual Quality Forum. The event is an in-house showcase of Nissan's efforts to improve all aspects of quality, including such elements as customer service, recall procedures, employee training and fit and finish.
Boosting supplier quality is a key objective for Nissan.
The good news is that Nissan has reduced greatly the number of nonconforming deliveries since the fiscal year that ended March 31, 2007. From that year through the fiscal year ended March 31, 2011, Nissan slashed the rate of problematic deliveries 85 percent worldwide, said Hisashi Matsumoto, a manager on Nissan's purchasing support team.
Nissan did not specify the number of problematic deliveries. But the data showed that throughout that period, North American suppliers consistently accounted for the bulk of them. In North America, it is a case of a few bad apples spoiling the batch, Matsumoto said.
"There are many good suppliers in North America," he said. "But there is a limited number of bad suppliers, and they pull down the region."
Matsumoto declined to identify worrisome North American suppliers by name. But he did say that they weren't solely south of the U.S.-Mexico border: "Some are America companies, too, unfortunately."
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