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Ford Five Hundred/Mercury Montego

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Comments

  • johnclineiijohnclineii Posts: 2,287
    Oh yes. It was discussed here many moons ago...

    And there are print rebuttals, also discussed here.
  • jrc346jrc346 Posts: 337
    I am a Ford enthusiast, and like many, I sit through the good years and the bad. However, it seems that recently, that many are particularly critical of Ford (news clippings, magazine articles), with dialogue that says things along the lines of "great car, but falls short for these reasons 1,2,...#,)" setting aside all of the cas's strong points for a few opinionated weak points. These faults (most negligible) may be small shortcomings, but shouldn't render these cars to be poorly competitive as some suggest. What I find interesting is that Ford seems to be answering the call of one particular thing (among others), quality. Now I understand that some will cite my bias here for this perception, but with the launches of its more recent vehicles Ford's have been doing great. It seems that the forgotten fact that Ford dedicated itself to the well renowned 6-sigma program for quality enhancement back in 2001, is finally paying off with little acknowledgment. I see numerous vehicles coming out of other domestic automakers with all of the "typical" teething problems that cars are thought to have. Though interestingly, the F-150, Mustang, and Five Hundred/Montego/Freestyle have had a very decent launches with many people reporting very few problems within the first few months of ownership. No small feat.

    A quick look at the past will still reveal botched launches, however, the F-150, Mustang, and Five hundred/Montego/Freestyle are the most recent vehicles to implement the 6-sigma program so thoroughly. This being because the program requires so much data.

    My personal experience is a small sample of all the Ford vehicles out there, but long-term reliability has been somewhat of a strong point. It has been initial quality botches (Focus,Escape) and recalls that have probably driven many people away from Ford, and it appears that they are finally getting a good handle on this problem. Why so little recognition? I guess if people aren't complaining about one thing, it's another. I for one applaud Ford (as secular fan) for its dedicated work in improving quality. I also see evidence of Ford's initial quality improving in Consumers Reports. Where owners are reporting far fewer problems with recently launched Ford vehicles than those launched in the past.

    Hopefully I am not subjecting myself to a bunch of criticism, but if you are a current over of one of these fine vehicles, then know that a lot of work on Ford's and their supplier's part, went into this vehicle to make it right before it reached you. There are going to be a few vehicles that get by, but if my understanding of 6-sigma is correct, MANY fewer than in the past.

    If you are someone that is looking at one of these vehicles, but is unsure about Ford quality, know that a lot of work is being done to fix past problems. Probably more so than either of the other domestic automakers with their use 3-sigma and 4-sigma as a quality standard for their parts and vehicles.

    Anyway, just an observation I thought I would pass on, nothing more.

    Since I don't have many answers to questions concerning 6-sigma other than the basics, I encourage all that want to find out more about it, and Ford's involvement in it, to do a search on "6-sigma" or "Ford 6-sigma" in a search engine.
  • alpha01alpha01 Posts: 4,747
    Agreed. The recent launches should be lauded. And its nice that the quality is improving- since the Focus's "Predicted Reliability" is now at an average level, it remains CR's Top Pick for Small/Compact cars. Thats a noteworthy feat. A full review of that vehicle, BTW, will appear in the May 05 issue of CR.

    But- does any manufacturer of anything use 3-sigma? That actually scares me given the defect rate that 3 sigma would allow.

    ~alpha
  • jrc346jrc346 Posts: 337
    You stated:
    "But- does any manufacturer of anything use 3-sigma? That actually scares me given the defect rate that 3 sigma would allow."

    To my knowledge, the other two domestic Automakers implement TQM (total quality management). Many of their suppliers do operate in the 4-sigma range (perhaps I miss-spoke in saying 3-sigma? My apologies). A nice benefit of the new industrial park Ford set up to supply the Chicago plant, is helping Supply Chain managers route out problems much faster than in the past.
  • jrc346jrc346 Posts: 337
    Companies operating at the following sigma levels experience approximately this number of defects per a million opportunities.

    1-Sigma
    690,000 defects per million

    2-Sigma
    308,537 defects per million

    3-Sigma
    66,807 defects per million

    4-Sigma
    6,210 defects per million

    5-Sigma
    233 defects per million

    6-Sigma
    3.4 defects per million
  • alpha01alpha01 Posts: 4,747
    I didnt have time today to look in our "Six Sigma Pocket Guide".... But your numbers above illustrate why I said automakers adhering to only 3 Sigma literally scared me. 4 Sigma is nothing to write home about, but it cuts down the defects signicantly from 3 standard deviations.

    ~alpha
  • garandmangarandman Posts: 524
    Hopefully I am not subjecting myself to a bunch of criticism, but if you are a current over of one of these fine vehicles, then know that a lot of work on Ford's and their supplier's part, went into this vehicle to make it right before it reached you. There are going to be a few vehicles that get by, but if my understanding of 6-sigma is correct, MANY fewer than in the past.


    What scares me about Ford is their abuseive treatment of suppliers. There does not seem to be any sense of teamwork, or trust as there is with the Japanese manufacturers and vendors. I think it would be difficult to provide extraordinary quality with the disfunctional relationship they have.
  • I don't pretend to know what's going on with Ford and GM vs Japan interms of suppliers, but my contacts with business tells me that 90% of everything is all about money.

    I know that the biggest differences between US and THEM are that GM and Ford have a very high fixed cost structure (media.gm.com look for rick wagoners speech to shareholders) and that the Japanese do not.

    In other words, take this example. Lets say there is a piece of interrior trim right? It costs $50 to purchase (and $40 for the supplier to make). To GM and Ford, they would add say $5 for pension and healthcare costs as they spread the fixed costs as far as possible. So, for GM and Ford, they could only afford it at $45, but to a supplier, this $5 difference means millions and is often the difference between profit and loss.

    So, with our automakers, they make $(50 - 5)-40 = $5 per sale.

    The Japanese, on the other hand, with the same trim, only need $1 for healthcare and pension costs. So they could buy it for $49. The supplier gets screwed either way, but with the Japanese they can sell at a higher price, and the Japanese automaker could LITERALLY PAY MORE FOR THE SAME PART AND STILL MAKE A BETTER MARGIN OFF OF IT!

    With Japanese automakers, they make ($50 - 1) - 40 = $9 per sale.

    This has allmost nothing to do with "relationships" its mainly a matter of cost. Yes, i bet if we got the inside scoop there are little differences, but the most important relationship is income and sales.

    Is this logical? I just find it amazing given the above that Ford did what they did with the 500. I can see why the air filter and lighted instrumentation, along with nav, are missing.

    It is stil a great car. sorry for the long post. I hope this explains the supplier relationship thing.
  • johnclineiijohnclineii Posts: 2,287
    It does indeed. Mr. Dragon, you write better-more concisely and precisely--than 90 percent of the business writers out there!
  • alpha01alpha01 Posts: 4,747
    I agreed, drags, that was a very informative example, thank you. However, the bottom line is that lacking items such as NAV, electroluminescent instrumentation, stability control.. do detract from this good vehicle's overall appeal.

    ~alpha
  • garandmangarandman Posts: 524
    iSo, with our automakers, they make $(50 - 5)-40 = $5 per sale.

    The Japanese, on the other hand, with the same trim, only need $1 for healthcare and pension costs. So they could buy it for $49. The supplier gets screwed either way, but with the Japanese they can sell at a higher price, and the Japanese automaker could LITERALLY PAY MORE FOR THE SAME PART AND STILL MAKE A BETTER MARGIN OFF OF IT!

    With Japanese automakers, they make ($50 - 1) - 40 = $9 per sale.


    Only one problem - it's not true.

    There are plenty of U.S. based vendors supplying parts to the Japanese transplants here. Their cost structure is the same regardless of who their customer is.

    There is an immense difference in the relationship between outside vendors for Japanes and American companies. Up to 50% of the engineering in Japanese cars is done by the vendors. The U.S. manufacturers may do up to 85% of the engineering. The Japanese manufacturers have specific cost targets to hit, and if the supplier does it more efficiently, they make more money, allowing them to invest in new capability.

    The U.S. vendors tend to hand the design over the wall, then beat the supplier over the head.

    You can read about these and other differences in "The Machine that Changed the World," about lean manufacturing techniques. The good news is that US manufacturers are learning these lessons fast, and the best US manufacturer plants are now better than some of the Japanese plants here.
  • you got a point, but its on a different matter.

    I gave an example of what is happening currently and how our automakers high fixed cost structure is eroding there current buying power, not the cost structure of the suppliers.

    In short, I did not mention the variable of manufacturing (that’s a whole different story), just purchase decisions based on the cost structure of each.

    Thank you so much johnclineii and alpha01.

    Alpha your absolutely correct, most customers do not care why something is the way it is. If they find a what they think is a better deal they will go for it, even if it will bite them back later.

    like how some people accosted our clothing industry for poor working conditions until it fled overseas and now they buy clothing from Chinese sweat shops and we have a growing national deficit. Oh yeah, and alot of workers that became unemployed as a result.

    or like going to McDonalds instead of Subway. Yeah, maybe its cheaper and more "filling" but your doctors bill will go through the roof in about 10 years when he finds a health problem for every ingested big-mac :p
  • buckwheatbuckwheat Posts: 396
    "rumor has it that Ford is about to discontinue the CVT option from the 500", of course I don't think it will happen until the GM/Ford tranny joint venture is launched. Right now the CVT is their only AWD tranny.

    http://tinyurl.com/3rb5t
  • ANT14ANT14 Posts: 2,687
    Actually the Aisin 5Automatic unit is capable of AWD (same unit used in the Volvo S60), but then again, that would be a step down considering the availability of the 6A. And no sense in further investing the 6A to make it AWD compatible, since the Ford/GM unit is coming out soon.
  • gene_vgene_v Posts: 235
    Rumor? Probably a fact. Can't find one in St. Louis w/o AWD. Only 500's with AWD in St. Louis have a CVT.
  • dbc123dbc123 Posts: 105
    CVT was standard in SE models with FWD in early production (until late Nov build). Now it's listed as an no cost option but few dealers seem to specify it. I've recently seen several SE's with Jan 05 build dates equipped with CVT's. No mention of the CVT option being specified. Seems that some are randomly built w/ CVT's.
  • garandmangarandman Posts: 524
    I gave an example of what is happening currently and how our automakers high fixed cost structure is eroding there current buying power, not the cost structure of the suppliers.


    You gave an example but it cannot be documented. The Japanese (and Germans) are moving manufacturing facilities here because it's less expensive than in their native countries. And as follow on research by the MIT professors who wrote the book shows, the American manufacturers have responded to the challenge in many ways. For example, the UAW now works a lot more effectively with the manufacturers than was the case in years past.
  • gene_vgene_v Posts: 235
    Ad emphasizes its 5 star safety rating. Asks the question - how did you do it? What should the next ad say?
    1) Its volume inside.
    2) Trunk size.
    3) Hip height
    2) Legroom
  • johnclineiijohnclineii Posts: 2,287
    Reliability of, and the wonders of driving, the CVT! :)
  • jrc346jrc346 Posts: 337
    I finally got back to a computer after wondering these past few days what comments I might find.

    Re:exalteddragon1
    You are very right about the higher fixed and variable costs (esp. wages paid to workers) that the domestic automakers must pay. The strain on the dollar in the domestic auto industry is very intense due in part to other high variable costs such as health care. You add up all of these costs and you find yourself with very little revenue. In guess one point that I made indirectly in what I posted previously, or perhaps a point that should be considered, is that in Ford's attempts to reduce the number of problems per million in its parts and products, they will be increasing revenue because of the drop in warranty costs (also a variable cost).

    Re:garandman
    When you don't have to look especially hard to suppliers to cut costs, then they are happier, and also more willing to share new technology with you. While suppliers may look innocent or like victims in all of this, there is more there than meets the eye. When suppliers deliver a sub par product or numerous products with inconsistencies which cause failures, this ultimately can cost the automaker two to three times the parts original cost. Not only will the automaker be paying for the part directly for installation into vehicles during production, but again to replace it if it fails during the warranty period (plus labor). The supplier does not eat those costs, the automaker does. So what does the automaker do? Bite their tongue? Shake their wrist and point their finger scolding the bad little supplier? I know that Ford may not be the best in supplier relations, but it seems that all other things equal, that the plan to reduce the quality problems Ford is/was having is proactive. Working with the supplier, on site, to route out the problem, and get it fixed.

    Re:alpha01
    I agree that a NAV system should be offered as an option, but do you think that electroluminescent gauges is a personal preference? Stability control might be a good option for the Freestyle, but how many cars in this price range have it standard or as an option? Personally, I don't know. I am willing to guess that in the statistics of costing this vehicle, that Ford figured it would loose few sales if they didn't offer some of your suggestions for improvements. Most people hate stats, and maybe they were wrong in this case. Only time will tell.

    On another note, I think it's great that for once, we are all here talking about these petty little things for once and not about how Ford botched up yet another launch. Hopefully this is the beginning of better things to come from Ford. I guess we will all see this fall when Ford's new line of mid-size cars are brought out.
This discussion has been closed.