Ford Motor Co. is hoping that the close relationship between two of its top executives could help its drive against any quality mistakes that could derail its several planned vehicle launches this year. Joe Hinrichs, head of North and South American operations, and Raj Nair, Ford's global product development chief, are considered as two of the vital persons in the carmaker’s push to get rid of quality issues that have dogged it in the past.
Ford is launching around 23 vehicles around the world this year, and any quality gaffe could affect its credibility and profitability. The launches included an aluminum F-150 pickup truck, which Ford unveiled at the Detroit Auto Show last week. The 2015 F-150 uses less steel and more aluminum.
"We have a lot more new product and a lot more new launches than we used to have," Hinrichs told Reuters in an interview on the sidelines of the show.
In the past few years, Ford has plummeted in key reliability surveys, no thanks to issues with its touch-screen dashboard system and some of its transmissions. The carmaker has issued seven recalls of its Escape crossover since its mid-2012 launch, which may have led to warranty costs of up to $300 million in 2013.
As part of the Ford's bid to prevent quality issues, Hinrichs and Nair are drawing on their experience working together in North America and Asia for the past dozen years. Both executives helped in Ford's restructuring in North America in 2005 and 2006, when Alan Mulally came in as chief executive. In late 2009, Hinrichs and Nair went to China to replicate Mulally's "One Ford" plan in Asia and improve quality. [source: Reuters]