“We’ve never launched vehicles with as high quality as this year,” says Jamie Hresko, GM’s global quality chief. That’s true for General Motors vehicles, regardless of where they’re built he claims.
Hresko says that GM’s plant in Kaliningrad, Russia is achieving the same high quality as that of facilities in the U.S., western Europe, Korea and China.
“We use the same processes and tools there,” he says. One exception is that in plants located in low-cost labor areas there is less reliance on robots and more manual operations are used.
“Focusing on four brands is much more manageable,” he says. GM is no longer producing Hummer, Saturn and Pontiac vehicles.
“We used to validate our vehicles to 100,000 miles in the old GM,” Hresko says. “In the new GM we validate not to fail.” He says that quality today has a higher priority than thrift.
GM points to a recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll citing positive opinion of GM jumped to 37 percent, up from just 18 percent in June 2009. Total negative opinion was 27 percent, a drop from 47 percent in June 2009. GM notes that while it still has a lot of work to do it is encouraging to see customers and potential customers are viewing GM more favorably.
GM corrosion-tests vehicle parts for 15 years of life now. “Long-term customer satisfaction is our goal,” he says. “I feel we’re producing cars that are world class today.”
The high quality production in vehicles makes it possible for GM to offer the current 5-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty. Hresko says he’s confident GM will not be deluged with excessive quality claims in the later years of the vehicle warranty because the company now uses higher quality components and materials.
He’s also confident that customer perception of GM quality is changing. Hresko personally visits two dealers a week all over the country to check on dealer and customer concerns. “I try to find out what they like and what they don’t like (in our vehicles),” he says.
“We’ll never launch a car that doesn’t finish on top for drivability, interior and exterior finishes and basic systems like electronic stability control,” he says.
The result is that GM doesn’t produce vehicles that are merely competitive. “We want cars that will win,” Hresko says. He says that it’s paying off in the marketplace.
The sales on Chevy Equinox recently required the establishment of a third shift at GM’s Oshawa, Ontario plant due to high demand. The GMC Terrain, Chevrolet Camaro and Buick LaCrosse are also exceeding original sales targets.
Hresko notes that warranty claims on General Motors vehicles have plummeted 45 percent over the last three years. He says this is reflected in higher residual values for the company’s products.
He’s confident that GM’s launch of the Chevrolet Volt extended range electric vehicle later this year will go flawlessly.
“We put all the parts on the Volts and then take the cars apart. There are numerous cycles of learning, but we’ve got experienced people there and they use systems copied from the recently shuttered joint GM/Toyota NUMMI operation.”
“We want to put hundreds of thousands of miles on Volts before we start shipping the cars to dealers,” Hresko says. He admits that GM could suffer a horrendous black eye if the Volt doesn’t launch with outstanding quality. — Herb Shuldiner, Motor Matters
Copyright, Motor Matters, 2010