A senior executive at the Chrysler division of DaimlerChrysler said on Thursday that he wants to build vehicles like Sony televisions, Reuters reported.

According to Reuters, Don Dees, Chrysler’s head of corporate quality, hopes that someday people will see Chrysler’s cars and trucks as every bit as dependable as the TVs produced by Japan’s Sony.

According to the news agency, that’s a tall order for a company that saw an embarrassing increase in recalls due to vehicle safety defects in the United States last year. But Dees, who joined Chrysler 2-1/2 years ago from Toyota, said his goal is to make the car maker the Sony of the car business.

“I want to buy a Sony TV because I know it’s never going to break in 20 years, right? That’s what we want people to think about Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep,” Dees said, according to Reuters. “Zero recalls – that’s where we’ve got to get to,” he added.

Speaking to Reuters during a briefing at Chrysler’s headquarters, Dees said the company was currently probably no better than General Motors and Ford in terms of quality.

A consumer survey Chrysler conducted last summer even showed most people think GM builds better vehicles, he said, according to Reuters.

The news agency said Dees pointed to a 50% decline in Chrysler’s dealer warranty work in the past six years as evidence its quality was improving, however. And he said a 21% drop in Chrysler’s warranty costs between the 2001 and 2002 model years was a sign of more good things to come.

“Our goal short-term is to pull away from GM and Ford in actual product quality and perception and longer-term catch up with the Toyotas, Hondas, and Mercedes of the world. That’s where we need to get to,” Dees said, according to Reuters.

The news agency said Dees claimed Chrysler had an iron-clad plan to lock in improvements through investment in new powertrain technology and the selection of tough and durable “bullet proof” components by teams set up 18 months ago to study each of the more than 1,000 parts that go into new vehicles.

By 2007, he said it was Chrysler’s goal “to be the best quality producer in our market,” Reuters said.

Dees acknowledged, however, that Chrysler may still be perceived, in surveys like the one it conducted last summer, as a low-quality manufacturer for years to come, Reuters noted.

“Our product quality has been improving quickly but the image is going to lag that, it’s going to lag that for years,” Dees said, according to Reuters.