Ford surpasses Toyota in quality

Ford Motor Co.'s newest automobiles had fewer problems than any other manufacturer — including Toyota Motor Corp. — according to a new survey of initial quality, details of which were obtained by The Detroit News.

It was the first time ever that the Dearborn automaker beat its arch-rival in the survey, which was conducted for Ford by the RDA Group of Bloomfield Hills. The study also put Ford in a dead heat with Toyota in customer satisfaction.

"We've been tied with Toyota before, but it sure feels better to be on the top!" wrote Bennie Fowler, Ford's global head of quality, in a memo to employees Friday, a copy of which was obtained by The News. "We can all be pleased with the progress we have made in quality, even as we face external and internal challenges in a tumultuous climate. Our progress has come as the result of our union partnerships in the U.S., Canada and Mexico, along with the work of dedicated teams in manufacturing, product development, purchasing, marketing, sales, service, legal, IT and others who follow disciplined, standardized processes."

RDA's research is used by a number of automakers, both foreign and domestic, and has historically tracked closely with other independent research by firms such as J.D. Power and Associates. Its second quarter study showed new Ford, Mercury and Lincoln cars and trucks had 1,185 issues per 1,000 vehicles. Toyota had 1,215 problems, while Honda Motor Co. had 1,291.

Both Toyota and Ford had an 80 percent positive customer satisfaction rating, Fowler said.

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