Blog: Dave LeggettFord's quality improvement

Dave Leggett | 17 October 2007

Ford's product quality is getting better in North America. The latest survey by Consumer Reports reinforces the findings of others. It's good news for Ford and getting quality right is a prerequisite for market success, of course. It just remains for Ford's US sales to show improvement, too - not quite a formality. Mark Fields has spoken before about the 'perception gap' that Ford suffers from in the US. The products may be better now, but the consumers haven't woken up to that fact or don't yet believe it. 'We're busy educating them' was the tone of what he said.

The big question is, how long is that gap in perception likely to persist? While Ford may be abandoning low-margin rental business in the US and sacrificing volume and share as a result, its sales will come under increasingly close scrutiny in the coming months - particularly on the models getting good reviews and reliability plaudits. Ford Fusion sales this year may be up, but the volume and the gain (about 1% on last year) look modest to me.

If the sales don't start to come through a bit more strongly soon, why would that be? Still downsizing? Is it still the perception gap at work, or are the models fine in terms of quality and reliability, but just not the right models? Are Ford dealers more interested in shifting trucks than cars? Is Ford primarily seen as a truck company? If you want a compact car go and see Toyota or Honda (the former perhaps benefitting from a reverse 'perception gap' that works in its favour).

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