US:Wayne plant worked hard to fix Focus quality
Wayne plant worked hard to fix Focus quality
BY SARAH A. WEBSTER
DETROIT FREE PRESS BUSINESS WRITER
The launch of the first Ford Focus in 1999 went so badly, and the public sting was so severe, that the automaker is determined not to botch this critical kick-off for the all-new 2008 Ford Focus.
"They remember it very well," said Mike Duffy, an area manager at Wayne Stamping and Assembly Plant on Michigan Avenue, where the current and future Focus will be built.
By 2002, Ford had recalled the vehicle nine times and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration had launched six separate investigations into the new vehicle, which suffered from noisy brakes, wind noise, loose nuts and sticky throttles, among other problems.
USA Today offered this pointed praise of the vehicle in a headline: "So nimble, so useful, but can Focus be trusted?"
In the popular "Car Talk" column, Tom and Ray Magliozzi wrote that they liked the styling and handling of the Focus, but added:
"With fires, air bags deploying and wheels falling off, it's not a car we can endorse right now."
Ford parachuted a team of experts into the plant to fix the problem. Since 2004, the Focus has received the coveted "Recommended Buy" rating from Consumer Reports, where the Focus is just one point behind the Honda Civic and 10 points ahead of the better-selling Toyota Corolla.
Ford executives responsible for the new Focus took the Free Press on a tour of the Wayne plant Friday to demonstrate all the new robots, tools and planning that will keep Focus quality in the "Recommended Buy" category.
Bennie Fowler was one of the executives brought in to fix problems with the first Focus at the Wayne plant, where he previously served as plant manager.
Today, as Ford's vice president of advanced manufacturing engineering and quality, he assured, "Those challenges are behind us."
About 150 new Focus vehicles have already been built during the planning and testing phase, and he's planning to start a roll-out sometime in the summer. He said the new model will offer a quieter cabin and improve on some of the small quality points that have the Focus just one point behind the Civic.
"With the changes we're making," he said, "we'll be in a leadership position."
My first car was a 67 Mustang Coupe, 2nd one was a 67 Cougar XR-7, 3rd one was a 66 Mustang Coupe. Why did I get rid of these cars for ? I know why, because I'm stupid, stupid, stupid.
My next Ford.....