Merged giants face problems
I've read many articles in the popular press about the takeover of Chrysler Corp. by Daimler-Benz. As usual, my devotion to Automotive News paid off.
The Nov. 23 column by Charles Child was the only one to point out the possible downside to the changes at Mercedes-Benz and Chrysler. All the others took an all-too-simplistic look at it.
Like Child, I believe the new company faces many new challenges. Some will be similar to those General Motors struggles with, as he pointed out. The merged companies will be lost if they are not smart.
Also, the Mercedes M class and A class showed that the Mercedes quality is there only for the high-end cars because Mercedes can afford to rework them.
It is not lean production. By and large, their processes don't support built-in quality. A comparison of the Jeep Grand Cherokee and the M class proves it.
Chrysler should have been the real leader here. I wish the press would do a better job, as Child did.
That was no 'wall of silence'
I am writing about 'In U.S., some aren't cheering,' one of the DaimlerChrysler Day One stories in your Nov. 23 issue. Perhaps in a strange attempt to manufacture 'balance' to a positive event, your reporter took a misunderstood moment and magnified it into an erroneous story.
I was standing on the third floor of the Chrysler Technical Center's Tech Plaza when Marketing Vice President Bud Liebler started to lead a cheer. He was most certainly not met by a 'brick wall of silence.'
In fact, what may have been hard to hear at the speaker's podium on the first floor of our Tech Plaza circular atrium was that up on the third and fourth levels, employees already had been starting a good old-fashioned 'ballpark-style' wave cheer. For many, the messages overlapped in echoes.
It's not surprising, but still disappointing, that the press, given an ambiguous situation at most, seeks the negative interpretation.
Small Car Platform Program
Auburn Hills, Mich.
Advice for Lincoln in helping owners
I'm writing about Peter Brown's column, 'Tale of owner (dis)satisfaction' (Nov. 9), in which he recounted the problems in resetting the digital clock in a Lincoln Town Car, the lack of help from the Lincoln Customer Assistance Center and the long search through the owner's manual for the answer.
No doubt there is an index item for 'cupholders' in the owner's manual.
Brown's advice to the factory on how to rectify the situation is right on, but his first suggestion, 'Train the customer assistance person on all aspects of the car,' is actually easier than he might have thought. There is a class of software called 'help desk software' originally designed for the people who provided software support.
It captures all questions, provides an index and builds an ongoing database of questions and answers. The point is, even a very moderately trained person can handle most questions with properly set up 'help desk software.'
Ford chose two for Internet job
Your Oct. 26 article, 'Ford gives marketing job to corporate agency,' is misleading.
The more complete story is that two parties were chosen to support Ford's Internet and new-media group: a creative partner (Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide) and a technical partner (SoftAd Group Inc.).
SoftAd did develop Ford's original Web site several years ago, and it maintains an in-house creative department. Soft-Ad, however, is primarily a Web-based application developer and business solutions provider. Our products and custom software applications provide Web sites with functionality.
As the Internet's use is evolving beyond flashy pictures and online brochures into a new sales channel, functionality becomes the driver in setting customers' expectations for a Web site.
In the case of the new Ford site, SoftAd has separated the functionality of the site from the creative. SoftAd and Ogilvy & Mather worked together on the navigation to ensure that technology and performance of the site were not compromised. SoftAd is working on future enhancements for the site, including personalized owner sites, an enhanced version of the OnLine Shopping Service and a vehicle configurator that ties to the individual Ford and Lincoln Mercury dealer sites.
Public Relations Manager
SoftAd Group Inc.
Mill Valley, Calif.