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Toyota’s in house development

“SATOSHI OGISO was 32 in 1993 when he took on the task of building what Toyota, his employer, vaguely thought of as the car of the future. The deadline was the start of the 21st century. In America at that time car designers were sketching gas-guzzlers or sport-utility vehicles. But Mr Ogiso’s team, mostly in their early 30s, wanted to create something that would “do the Earth good”, as he puts it. Within two years they had come up with Toyota’s hybrid technology, in which a battery powers the car for short distances and a petrol engine kicks in at higher speeds, recharging the battery. Within four years they had their first Prius on the road.

Now there are 2m of them and Toyota has a prototype plug-in version that can be charged at home, like other electric vehicles, but has a petrol engine for long distances. In Toyota’s more distant vision, the home (built, of course, by Toyota’s housing division) will be solar-powered, which will cut emissions even further. And at night, when demand is low, the home may even be plugged into the hybrid car, which will have recharged its battery from the engine.

This is the kind of thing you would expect from Japanese manufacturing, with its focus on craftsmanship, or monozukuri. Mr Ogiso’s project exemplifies some of the strongest traits: teamwork, in-house development and a desire to earn glory for the company. What was different was the engineers’ ages. All young, they were given the freedom to follow their instincts, with no middle managers to second-guess them. “The senior engineers could not understand the hybrid engineering,” chuckles Mr Ogiso.

The tradition of in-house innovation runs deep in Japan, and some of the resulting products may help the country to adapt to an ageing society. Bill Hall at Synovate, a market-research company, reels off a list of new products that are already available, or will be soon: the Toto intelligent toilet that can detect the level of sugar in urine; Panasonic’s robotic bed that turns into a wheelchair; Toyota’s battery-powered individual three-wheeler, with built-in sensors to avoid collisions.”

The Economist Nov 18th 2010 | from PRINT EDITION Pp.10; Read full article here

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Market will decide on Toyota recall

The company’s proactive and unprecedented recall and sales halt, while expensive in the short term, may protect its image.

As in any good relationship, open communication is vital and Toyota Motor Corp., which recently suspended production and sales of eight models suspected of having sticky accelerator pedal problems, now has the perfect chance to show the world how healthy a relationship it has with its customers.

The recall and sales halt, which most industry observers agree was the right move, has generated different discussions about the company’s renowned quality expertise.

“Toyota has built this reputation on quality and reliability and safety and being a practical choice. When consumers start questioning that, it really can damage them in terms of reputation, especially when Hyundai, Ford, Honda, Subaru, and Nissan offer great choices and are coming up in quality ratings,” Jake Fisher, an automotive engineer for Consumer Reports, told Reuters.

floormat

However, Toyota could minimize the adverse effects of the recall and sales halt depending on how well the company communicates with its customers, according to Dave Sargent, vice president of the global automotive division at J.D. Power and Associates.

“We feel that Toyota is taking the right steps here,” says Sargent. “It is critical that they also focus on communications with customers and dealers. There appears to be some uncertainty right now. This is understandable, but Toyota needs to be as clear as possible around what consumers should do, what dealers should say to customers and potential customers, and (when they know) when sales and production will restart. This is obviously a hugely complex challenge. Action is critical, but clear communication is also important.”

As far as the impact on overall customer satisfaction of the Toyota brand is concerned, Sargent isn’t convinced Toyota will take that big a hit.

“Historically, vehicle recalls have minimal effect [as far as customer satisfaction ratings go] as only a very tiny percentage of owners actually experience the problem,” Sargent explains. “For the majority of owners, the most significant impact will be the inconvenience of taking their vehicle in to the dealer to be fixed. The high volume of recall work is also likely to affect other owners trying to get a dealer service appointment. The effect will be largely dependent on how well Toyota and the dealers manage this process. There may also be an indirect effect coming from some consumers’ residual concerns about the general reliability of their vehicle and potential effect on the resale value. Overall the impact is likely to be less profound than might be expected.”

floormat2

It’s still unclear what Toyota is going to do as a definite measure to fix the problem, but Sargent is certain that Toyota is not going to risk it’s highly valued reputation by releasing the affected vehicles before the problem has been clearly identified and fixed.

“The actions that Toyota have taken this week are clearly designed to fix the problem (and the perception of a problem) once and for all,” says Sargent. “It is highly unlikely that they will move forward without being completely satisfied that the problem is fixed. Their long-term reputation is more important to them than losing a few weeks of sales, however painful that is in the short term.”

Meanwhile, The National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) is encouraging Toyota dealers to verify whether or not they have business interruption insurance that might help them endure this crisis.

“This is creating a very difficult situation for dealers, in an already tough market. NADA is working with Toyota to identify a plan to help get dealers through this,” the association said in a statement.

Last year, the Japanese automaker issued a recall of vehicles to reduce the risk of pedal entrapment by incorrect or out of place accessory floor mats, according to a company statement. Approximately 1.7 million Toyota Division vehicles are subject to both separate recall actions.

Toyota’s accelerator pedal recall and suspension of sales is confined to the following Toyota Division vehicles: 2009-2010 RAV4, 2009-2010 Corolla, 2009-2010 Matrix, 2005-2010 Avalon, Certain 2007-2010 Camry, 2010 Highlander, 2007-2010 Tundra, 2008-2010 Sequoia.

From Quality Digest

 
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Posted by on February 1, 2010 in Toyota

 

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Is it time for TPS II?

What the world’s biggest carmakers can learn from other corporate turnarounds.

“Less than two years ago Toyota swept past an ailing General Motors (GM) to become the world’s biggest carmaker. Now its newly installed boss, Akio Toyoda, the 53 year old grandson of the founder, says that the firm could be locked in a spiral of decline. Toyota is still a hugely formidable company, and some within the industry (and inside Toyota itself) believe that Mr Toyoda may be overstating the case. Yet there is no shortage of signs that all is not well.

Toyota’s story has implications beyond the motor industry, for it is not just a car company; it is the model for manufacturing excellence whose “lean” techniques have been copied by countless firms. How it slipped up –and how it may right itself –carries lessons for others.

Falling giants.

Althought some of its rivals, notably Volkswagen of Germany and Hyunday of South Korea, have come through the terrible past year relatively unscathed. Toyota’s market-share has either fallen or been flat in every region in which it operates except Japan—a market that was shrinking well before the crisis struck.

In America, its biggest and normally most profitable market, Toyota has been plagued by highly publicised recalls that have raised embarrassing questions about the safety of its vehicles. In China, India and Brazil, the big emerging markets that will provide nearly all the industry’s future growth, Toyota has been slow of the mark. Its lead in hybrid technology is under threat as other big carmakers scramble to bring low –and zero –emission vehicles to market before low –carbon legislation bites. Astonishingly, in the first three months of 2009 it made an even bigger loss than GM, which was then on the verge of bankruptcy. Underlying all these problems is an uncomfortable truth: Toyota’s rivals have now caught up. They now offer cars that are just as reliable but far more exciting than the rather dull vehicles Toyota has concentrated on producing in ever –larger numbers.

A bit of vroom needed.

Toyota can also learn from the woes of other carmakers. A decade ago Ford thought it had found a saviour in the dynamic Jac Nasser, who declared his intention to transform the firm from an old –economy carmaker into a nimble, internet-savvy, consumer powerhouse that managed brands and sold services. He also went on a wild acquisition spree, paying huge sums for Volvo and Land Rover. Unfortunately, amid Mr Nasser’s cultural revolution, Ford lost sight of its main purpose: building decent vehicles as efficiently and profitably as possible. That is what Ford is reaping the rewards for doing now, under the less exciting but steadier leadership of Alan Mulally.

Toyota, too, has a good chance of putting things right. It is no GM, which had far deeper structural problems before it used bankruptcy to off-load some of them. It has a boss who understands what has gone wrong –namely, that it has jeopardized its formerly stellar reputation for quality by pursuing volume at all costs and by failing to put the needs of its customers first. It has started to sort out some of its problems. Quality and reliability are getting back up to the mark. Now it needs to make more exciting and innovative cars.

Mr Toyoda’s approach is not visionary. It is simple, incremental and requires painstaking attention to what the customers want. That is its virtue.”

Extracted from: The Economist December 12th-18th 2009. Pp 69-71. The Economist Print Edition

 
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Posted by on December 16, 2009 in Lean Manufacturing, Toyota

 

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The juice of electric cars

In spite of the deep crisis in the automotive industry, several large carmakers are taking a gamble on a technology that has not yet proved it can win over consumers – electric cars.

hybrid-thumb.jpgNational and local governments globally, including the US, the UK, Japan and Australia, are abetting this drive into the unknown with generous subsidies and tax breaks for zero- and low-emission vehicles due to launch over the coming three years.

Carlos Ghosn, chief executive of the RenaultNissan alliance, which has the biggest plans for battery-powered cars, this month unveiled in Yokohama the all-electric Nissan Leaf.

Mr Ghosn dismissed the notion – voiced by many analysts and some competing carmakers – that the limited driving range of electric cars, their higher price and need to recharge regularly will limit them to niche markets. “We see this as a mass market car,” he said. Nissan wants to sell 200,000 Leafs globally by 2012.

In keeping with Mr Ghosn’s bullish view, Renault will next month unveil in Frankfurt a range of several all-electric cars aimed at “different kinds of uses and consumers”, according to the company.

Rival Japanese carmaker Mitsubishi last month began taking orders for the i-MiEV, a car that can drive 160km (100 miles) on a single electric charge. This is enough for most commutes, and the same range Nissan and Renault are promising for their vehicles. It will go on sale to commercial buyers from this year and consumers from next April.

Daimler this year will begin production of a second-generation electric version of its Smart Fortwo minicar. The model will be equipped with lithium-ion batteries supplied by Tesla, the private California-based electric car company in which Daimler bought just under a 10 per cent stake for €50m ($70.7m) in May.

Tesla itself began selling electric roadsters in the US last year and in June opened the first of four planned European dealerships in London.

Mr Ghosn said at the launch of the Leaf that he thought pure electric vehicles could account for 10 per cent of all new car purchases by 2020. PwC, in a recent report, estimated that the market could account for 2-5 per cent of total output of light vehicles by that year. However, many analysts are sceptical that the optimistic forecasts will pan out, given the limited driving ranges and high initial price.

“The technology isn’t there yet with the batteries to do more than 100 miles reliably and if you turn on the air conditioning or heating, it’s less than that,” says Al Bedwell, an automotive technology analyst with JD Power. “It’s a limited market.

Toyota, Nissan’s local rival and the global industry’s biggest producer, has said that electric cars are best suited for short distance urban commuting and delivery vehicles. In January the company unveiled the FT-EV, a small electric car it wants to mass-produce by about 2012.

However, Toyota spends more time speaking about its hybrids, including a plug-in car due to launch this year that can top up its battery via an electric outlet, but still have recourse to a petrol engine.

Thomas Weber, Daimler’s head of research and development, recently acknowledged that large-scale zero-emission driving at affordable prices “won’t become a reality overnight”. The company plans to produce about 1,000 of its electric Smart cars this year.

Nissan's new electronic vehicle, the Leaf
NISSAN LEAF

Mitsubishi, the first volume carmaker to launch an electric model, says that it would sell only about 1,400 to fleet customers this year – mainly corporations and local authorities – but hopes to sell 30,000 annually by 2013.

If hybrid cars are any indication, many consumers will baulk at electric cars’ high initial price.

Global sales of hybrid cars are rising, but still account for less than 1 per cent of light vehicle sales, in part because of the premium they command over comparable conventional cars – up to $5,000 in the case of the Toyota Prius.

In the US, the biggest market for hybrids, their sales have dropped further than the industry average during the downturn.

Meanwhile, PWC estimates that all-electric cars will cost $7,000-$20,000 more than comparable conventional cars.

To defray some of the cost to early adopters, Britain is one of several governments that will offer their buyers tax breaks, worth up to £5,000 ($8,225) from 2011. US buyers of plug-in cars – such as General Motors’ Chevrolet Volt, launching next year – will benefit from a tax break worth $7,500.

Toyota Prius
TOYOTA PRIUS

In Japan, Mitsubishi’s tiny i-MiEV will have a list price of more than $48,000, or about three times the price of its petrol version. However, the company points out that national and regional subsidies will defray the cost of the car there and in Europe.

Nissan and Renault plan to reduce the cost to consumers further by decoupling the cost of the battery from the car under a leasing scheme, allowing them to sell the vehicles at a price comparable to similar conventional cars. In marketing electric cars, the companies also plan to tout lower running costs.

In Israel, the two carmakers are joining forces with Better Place, a US company building a nationwide recharging network for electric cars, including battery-swap stations where motorists can exchange their depleted batteries. The project has the blessing of Israel’s government, which has enacted generous tax incentives for electric cars.

Mr Ghosn’s decision to position Nissan as a frontrunner in electric cars has landed the company much-needed government financing, too. Britain and Portugal are giving the company loans and grants of undisclosed size to build new plants to make lithium-ion batteries for cars announced in July.

Honda Insight
HONDA INSIGHT

Britain, which is trying to position itself as a hub for low-carbon technologies, is also expected to provide financial sweeteners to lure Nissan to make electric cars at its plant in Sunderland, north-east England.

In the US, Nissan recently became the first non-US carmaker to qualify for a Department of Energy grant for clean-car technology. It will use the $1.6bn low-interest loan to retool its plant in Smyrna, Tennessee, to make electric cars from 2012.

The missing – and still incalculable – piece of the equation now is the number of customers that will buy its cars.

Extracted from The Financial Times Limited 2009.

 
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Posted by on August 20, 2009 in Uncategorized

 

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A bit of Toyota’s humanoid robot

Amazing the equilibrium, acceleration and deceleration.

 
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Posted by on July 29, 2009 in Toyota

 

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Let’s talk about Kanban, the second pillar of TPS after JIT

The core of lean manufacturing, kanbans use the “pull” system to prevent waste by creating a cyclical relationship between the consumer, supplier, and manufacturer. The user of a material requests or “pulls” material from the supplier, as they need it. They do this using some form of notification.  Product consumption information is sent from the user upstream to the supplier so that consumed materials can be restocked as needed. Ultimately, this eliminates overproduction and waste from the previous unnecessary use of materials and machinery.

Roughly translated as “sign” or “visual card,” a kanban can be any device that communicates the need for an item. Kanbans ensure that only what is needed is ordered and in the proper amount.

The first kanbans, signboards, were used to transfer inventory information between production processes. Taiichi Ohno, former vice president of Toyota Motors, designed the concept in the mid 1950s after observing the operating system of an American supermarket. He was taken with the concept of only supplying what was needed, when it was needed, and how greatly this prevented unnecessary production and waste.

Considered one of the most price accessible means for inventory control, kanbans exist in manual and electronic forms (anything from a plastic container to a software program). It reduces unnecessary inventory, eliminate shortages, and cuts costs. Bringing improvements in price and quality, kanbans exists in three types: supplier, in-factory, and production.

  • Supplier kanban: Alerts parts suppliers as to what specific production parts are needed and how many.
  • In-factory parts-retrieval kanban: is used between factory processes to manage inventory.
  • Production kanban: Indicates operating instructions for factory lines.

Successful implementation requires that four rules be followed:

  • The production process works against the grain, starting with the consumer order and working it’s way back to manufacturing to eliminate any excess materials.
  • Manufacturers must only produce what has been ordered in the exact order and quantity it received in the request.
  • Products must remain 100-percent defect-free to continue down the production line.
  • Kanbans should be gradually decreased over time to uncover and correct production areas needing improvement.

Check more in QualiPedia

Electronic Kanban Helps TRANE Stay Lean

More than 80 percent of the firm’s purchasing is done online using an electronic kanban system.

TRANE Residential Systems, is a lean organization that knows about growth through innovation. In 1931, TRANE came up with the radical idea of using technology to provide relief from the summer heat. The 1938 launch of the Turbovac, the industry’s first hermetic, centrifugal refrigeration machine, fundamentally changed the concept of air conditioning in large buildings. This was the beginning of a long chain of innovations that eventually led to TRANE’s current CenTraVac, the industry standard for large commercial air conditioning systems. This energy-efficient system with its superior performance in minimizing refrigerant emissions, has earned TRANE the “Best of the Best Stratospheric Ozone Protection Award” from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The lean metrics are impressive.

As part of a Six Sigma project, TRANE Residential identified Ultriva, a lean manufacturing software solution, as part of its control plan. TRANE has been using the software for more than a year, and the work-in-process (WIP) and the raw and in-process (RIP) inventory are down more than $4 million. More important, that improvement has been sustained. More than 80 percent of the firm’s purchasing is done online in real time with suppliers using Ultriva’s electronic kanban pull system.

“The company now has total visibility of what’s where—something I’ve never been able to do with any MRP [material requirement planning] system, and I’ve worked in many,” says John Young, materials and supply chain leader of TRANE Residential Systems in Vidalia, Georgia. “All parts that go from our warehouse are kanban pull with manufacturing lines, and our entire fabricating department, where we make lots of stampings, is run off of this system—giving us tools such as capacity management as well as kanban pull.”

TRANE’s lean initiative

The lean initiative at this particular plant has been in process for about two years, says Young. “However we’ve had deep roots for more than ten years in demand flow technology and going so far as to have true mixed model flow production assembly lines during that time,” he notes. “Our entire plant-level team is, by function, a lean leader, including the plant manager. From a corporate level within our division [TRANE Residential Systems]—it’s mimicked similarly in that all functions are expected to be the lean leaders of our initiative. From a higher level of Ingersoll-Rand, even our CEO participates in two kaizen events a year at different plants, so it’s becoming part of our culture for sure.”

In the past, TRANE used differing types of kanban systems with sporadic success across TRANE Residential locations. There was no standardization and in most cases the kanban systems would not run correctly. Cards were lost, there was no known way to resize efficiently, and there was no visibility of kanban being in process with suppliers. Ultriva became a solution because of the organization’s desire to implement kanban.

“I wanted some technology enablers to allow us management tools as well,”  explains Young. “We came across Ultriva as a solution due to a Six Sigma project team I was helping lead on material planning improvements.”

Conditions needed improvement

TRANE was facing a variety of problems: there were too many stock outs, too much material, no parts visibility with suppliers, and no parts-in-transit visibility. There was also no ability to measure on-time delivery or have real-time receipts with suppliers.

“[TRANE Residential] needed poka-yoke on receiving processes and material control needs,” recalls Young. “We needed access to the data to address increases and decreases in demand for kanban systems, and there had to be a supplier portal to have visibility into our shop floor. All this was needed along with the ability to run MRP orders the same as kanban, but just as one-time orders.”

Several electronic kanban software programs were considered, including a home-written one that was being used for internal fabricated parts in the Tyler facility. “In the FMEA [failure mode effects analysis] of our Six Sigma project on material planning improvements, Ultriva was able to move almost all of our highest ranking issues to non-issues through poka-yoke or minimal issues through its superior methodology,” says Young.

In April 2008, TRANE Residential streamlined its purchasing system as well as its internal management of the fabrication department, which made capacity management more visual. The company officially moved to consumption-based replenishment purchasing using real-time bar-coded receipts with poka-yoke (to prevent double ordering or double receiving). The company now has total closed-loop procurement internally and externally through kanban systems, producing a much cleaner value-stream mapping process.

Specific benefits of consumption-based replenishment:

  • $4.7 million in material savings through the successful implementation of the control plan for the companies Six Sigma project
  • $243,000 savings in 90 days (pilot period)
  • Increased turns from low single digits to 25+ and is on track to hit 33 by the year’s end (measured as COGS)
  • Stock-outs with no visibility as to why its gone
  • When there is a stock-out, the company sees it coming and is certain as to the root cause after only minutes of data analysis.
  • On-time-delivery metrics for suppliers are now available, none previously existed.
  • Transit lead time metrics (impossible in other systems)

“We have a Fab Supermarket, too, that we manage through our electronic kanban system,” notes Young. “These parts have been reduced more than 50 percent in the past year. We have a true way to measure supplier on-time delivery. We never really could before. And this can be for any kanban loop. So even internally we can measure and adjust. Based on our running a successful pilot here in Vidalia more than a year ago, we chose this to be a solution at all Trane RS [Residential Systems] plants, and the other three sites are in process of implementing now.”

Lean technology providing a competitive advantage

The electronic kanban system is utilized within the entire supply chain across the TRANE Residential division, and implemented in more than 85 percent of Vidalia’s spending. All sites within TRANE Residential are expected to be on the system within the next year and a half.

“This [system] provides a competitive advantage in that we are able to see down to very granular levels of details, what’s happening in our supply chain,” Young explains. “This analysis tool allows a manager to truly zero in on root cause and remove emotions from analysis, and drive data-driven decision making. Being able to have full visibility into our supply chain allows us to react to unforeseen circumstances better, react to demand shifts, minimize impact to our financial stakeholders, as well as give realistic expectations to internal and external customers.”

Ultimately, this lean technology solution has become a major pillar of TRANE’s rapid improvements, both in the supply chain and in internal processes. “The technology is an absolute enabler and makes improvement sustainable; and it allows us to more rapidly identify and execute on improvements, which of course is the key to lean: continuous improvement,” says Youn

From Thomas R. Cutler in Quality Digest

 
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Posted by on July 8, 2009 in Lean Manufacturing, Toyota

 

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Strategic Vision Inc. recognizes the efforts coming from Detroit

(Strategic Vision: San Diego) — Volkswagen of America and Ford Motor Corp. were recently announced as full-line corporate leaders in Strategic Vision Inc.’s (SVI) Total Quality Index (TQI). Across their various brands, both corporations are consistently producing vehicles judged high in perceived quality and emotional delight, resulting in models that customers can love. Volkswagen of America also had the greatest number of TQI leaders across the segments being measured than any other brand: Rabbit, Jetta, CC, New Beetle, Tiguan, and Audi A4. Ford has Focus as the leader in the popular Small Car segment.

The TQI asks buyers to rate all aspects of the ownership experience from buying and owning to performance and driving—much more than simply counting problems. Results from studies that measure the number of problems or the overall satisfaction of a vehicle do not measure the customers’ commitment to, advocacy for, or loyalty to their vehicles accurately. “In today’s difficult market, the difference between products that generate consideration, build brands, and increase sales versus those that do not is often how much delight and love the product generates with its customers,” says Darrel Edwards, Ph.D., chairman of Strategic Vision.

In a recently published survey conducted by another research company that only counted problems, MINI was rated the worst quality brand. However,  in Strategic Vision’s most recent research study, which examines the entire ownership experience and MINI owners’ perceptions of quality, from styling to performance, including what went wrong and what created delight, MINI is the highest rated brand in total quality in its price category. Therefore, it is not a surprise that MINI was one of the two brands to increase sales during last year’s start of the U.S. and automotive recession. “When you have a product worthy of love, customers will come,” says Alexander Edwards, president of SVI.

The past 12 months have been rough for domestic manufacturers as constant negative news is delivered, bankruptcies are filed, and the mantra, “Why won’t Detroit build quality vehicles that people want to buy?” is stated again and again. However, it is important to note that four of the top ten-selling vehicles in the first quarter of this year were domestics. Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler have all scored well with customers in total quality and in sales.

General Motors had four segment leaders: Pontiac G8, GMC Envoy, Yukon XL and the Chevrolet Corvette (which was the highest rated TQI of any vehicles this year). Customers report that these vehicles deliver what they want from each segment. These leaders have delightful interiors, performance, and styling, providing customers an added sense of security, confidence, fun and excitement. It’s also important to note that Saturn and Pontiac brands performed well in TQI across most of their models, with both brands tied for having the highest TQI scores in their price segment.

The Chrysler Group has increased in total quality from last year with the Dodge Ram leading the way with the highest Total Quality score of any truck in the history of the 15-year study. This is also the first time the Ram has achieved this honor since 1999 when it lost its title for the first time to competition. Customers specifically noted that the Ram has the best added storage capability along with the best truck interior ever rated by customers. “For truck buyers, the Dodge Ram has reclaimed its perceived leadership in innovation, a corporate hallmark,” says Edwards. “We have tracked innovation as a critical dimension in success since 1979 and have shown that it has been the single most powerful factor in success across categories, especially among automobiles.”

American Honda Motors, Nissan Motor Corp., and Toyota Motor Sales each led in two segments with strong positions in many others. The Nissan Maxima tied with the G8 in the large car segment while the Infiniti FX and EX, both competing in the near-luxury utility segment tied with each other. The FX and EX both delivered strong performance and exterior styling that led to a greater perception of quality leading to an enhanced sense of prestige and individuality for their owners.

For American Honda Motors, the Honda Ridgeline and Odyssey lead their segments with delightful capability and overall flexibility in each of the models. Both models show innovation that produces leadership. Odyssey became a leader among minivans when it offered the most innovative product in its segment years ago. Ridgeline burst onto the scene as Truck of the Year with innovation unmatched by competition in its segment. Although Ridgeline’s price has kept sales below that of competitors, those who buy it often report that they are delighted with almost every aspect. The innovation and delight delivered by each of these leaders cause owners to state that their next vehicle will be a Honda.

Toyota Motor Sales led with the all-new Toyota Venza and Toyota 4Runner. Both vehicles, as do most Toyota and Lexus products, delivered high levels of trust associated with the Toyota brand name and the brand’s attention to interior details. Customers reported that both of these vehicles showed increased thoughtfulness in their design. Few things-gone-wrong combined with higher expected durability and reliability provided a foundation for Toyota’s leadership position in these segments. With the added thoughtfulness and utility of the products, Toyota’s customers were truly delighted.

Having few problems (solid initial quality) can provide foundational assurance to customers, increasing brand trust and expected durability and reliability. As seen in similar studies, SVI found that the number of problems per vehicle found in the Lexus brand is statistically the lowest of all brands. Lexus’ goal should be to focus on enhanced products and communications to show customers that they are focused on delivering more than basic satisfaction as they build on their foundation.

Finally, in the Luxury categories the BMW X3 tied with the Infiniti FX and EX on Total Quality. The Mercedes S-Class has again defined luxury in its class, leading for the fourth time in the past six years. The Land Rover Range Rover is the leader in the Luxury utility segment. Many other Land Rover/Jaguar models also scored very well with models like the Range Rover Sport, Jaguar XF, and Jaguar XJ scoring just below top positions in their segments.

Buyers rated the following vehicles tops in their segments:

Segment Winner(s) TQI Score
Small Car Ford Focus Sedan 877
Small Multi-Function Volkswagen Rabbit 889
Mid-Size Car Volkswagen Jetta Sedan 891
Large Car Nissan Maxima
Pontiac G8
900
899
Near-Luxury Car Volkswagen CC Sedan
Audi A4 Sedan
923
922
Luxury Car Mercedes-Benz S-Class 934
Specialty Coupe Volkswagen New Beetle 924
Premium Coupe Chevrolet Corvette Coupe 938
Minivan Honda Odyssey 865
Entry Utility Volkswagen Tiguan 914
Mid-Size Crossover Utility Toyota Venza 925
Mid-Size Traditional Utility GMC Envoy
Toyota 4Runner
859
858
Large Utility GMC Yukon XL 899
Near-Luxury Utility Infiniti FX
Infiniti EX35
BMW X3
906
904
904
Luxury Utility Land Rover Range Rover 920
Standard Pickup Honda Ridgeline 874
Full-Size Pickup Dodge Ram 1500 899

The TQI was calculated from 20,101 buyers who bought 2008 and 2009 models in September to December of 2008.

For more information please visit www.strategicvision.com.

 
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Posted by on July 1, 2009 in Total Quality Management, Toyota

 

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