Doug Betts has left his job as the quality chief for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles as five of its brands ranked in the bottom seven of Consumers Reports’ annual reliability study. Chrysler said in a statement that Betts left the carmaker to “pursue other interests.” Betts has been with Chrysler since leaving Nissan in 2007.
His North American duties will be shifted to Matthew Liddane, vice president of systems and components while his quality post on FCA’s Global Executive Council will be handled by Mark Chernoby, chief of global product development. According to sources at Chrysler, Betts was known for speaking his mind occasionally, thereby irking chief executive Sergio Marchionne.
For instance, earlier this year, he gave comments on Chrysler’s talks with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration over 2 million older Jeep Grand Cherokees and Libertys that allegedly pose fire risk – raising eyebrows at the carmaker.
In June, Betts told Automotive News that callbacks had turned into “a very politicized issue” that threatened to afflict consumers with a “boy who cried wolf syndrome.” Consumer Reports’ recent reliability rankings showed that the Dodge, Ram, Jeep and Fiat brands were lurking on the bottom of the 28-brand list. The Chrysler brand dropped four places to 22nd.
The recent survey further hurt Chrysler image that was tainted earlier this year in another measure, the J.D. Power and Associates Initial Quality Study. In that list, Jeep and Fiat were at the farthest end.
Fiat owners reported 206 problems per 100 vehicles in the first 90 days of ownership. The Dodge brand was below average at 21st although the Chrysler saved the day for ranking above par at 12th. The J.D. Power survey was led by Porsche while the Consumer Reports study was dominated by the Toyota and Lexus brand.