Short-term quality in all the measurements, J.D. Power and all that, is 90 days of ownership. Last fall, we put in place a tag process. It is the Centers for Disease Control mentality - solving problems quickly because you lose one customer at a time if you don't. We did a math-based algorhythm that we had our people write. I asked them, give me a math-based algorithm. What is normal warranty database? What does it tell you on labor codes?
Based on that, if you have a spike above normal variation, the computer program is written to flag it down. Then our central quality engineers investigate it, talk to the dealers, get the parts, analyze it.
It can only be three groups responsible right? It is either the supplier, the engineer or the plant. So we said, 'Who owns it?' Then we tap you on the shoulder and say, 'Tag, you're it.'
You've got seven business days to solve the problem short-term and have a long-term solution in place, or it hits my desk in seven business days. In 14 business days, it hits Dieter (Zetsche's) desk. And nobody wants it to hit my or Dieter's desk.
We've had almost 35 to 40 of these. We have meetings to find out why they couldn't solve it. They are not like love-ins. These are very tough. Why can't we stop these issues from going to the field?
Of the 35 or 40, I have had seven or eight come to me. Probably about three or four have gone to Dieter. That is the short-term stuff.
Long term, you can look at Consumer Reports. A number of our models are now being recommended because the reliability is getting better. We still have work to do because we are not the best yet. We have done everything from corrosion audits. We've torn down the competitor products at 100,000 miles. We've torn our own down and found out what was wrong there. We've done our cold testing, hot testing, simulations. We've got our own wind tunnel on-site, which helps us with some long-term issues with wind noise and vibration.
When I ran powertrain, we double-bogeyed tested all of our powertrains. Before, maybe the mileage testing wasn't long enough. So the mind-set now and one of the quality mandates I put out is, "Test it 'til it breaks." On major systems and components, we test it 'til it breaks. I find out the weakest component and then start over.