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Old 05-17-2003, 02:27   #1 (permalink)
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FPV - Time to Lift Your Game (long)

Subtitle:How to take a really good concept and roger it senseless.

I'm mostly a patient person and very few things really get my goat. One of the things that does is incompetence. Not from people who are incapable but from those who should be able to achieve better than they actually do. This applies equally to organisations that do not perform as well as the sum of their parts indicates they should and at the moment I am putting FPV fair and square in that category. Underperformers.

This is no reflection on the many hard working people who strive to produce a quality product but rather more a shot at some of the back room boys who seem to have not quite got their heads in the right place. Or more correctly they seem to have them in the wrong place which is up their ass.

From an outsiders view, FPV gives the appearance of an organisation that has bitten off a fair bit more than it can chew at the moment. With the introduction of the BA XR, FPV GT and the added burden of FPR it may well be a case that the resources are being stretched a bit too far. But I'm not here to make excuses - in the final analysis the paying punter has a right to expect that he is handing over his folding stuff to people who have a clue what they are doing and I'm not overly convinced that this is the case. If that upsets some people then so be it. It's an opinion and you can do with it what you will.

Now I don't like to present unsupported arguments so bear with me while I build my case.

It is fairly well documented that there have been extensive delays in the release of various FPV related product.Let us look at some of these in a little more detail.

1. XR8 automatic transmissions - not directly FPVs fault but the delays still impacted on the release of this product and caused delays for customers and this process should have been managed better both from an engineering view and customer expectations.

2. Shortages. Here we can list wheel shortages, paint shortages, painted part shortages (bumpers), trim shortages (well none isn't actually a shortage) and probably others as well that I don't know about. Worse still they are still continuing. The worst thing you could order at the moment would be a Blueprint GT-p with cloth seats - good luck if you have one on order. Now these shortages are in the control of FPV even if they are reliant on external providers - the responsibility for ordering sufficient stock is in the hands of both the product planners (to predict build numbers and mix) and those who actually order components and deal with suppliers. Seems that FPV have traded JIT (just in time) for WTL (way too late) in this area and it isn't good enough.

3. Production scheduling. Not probably known by many but the assumption that cars are built in much the order they are ordered is a fallacy at FPV. For whatever reason (presumably the shortages mentioned above) the only orders that were filled when production first ramped up were those that fit the available parts. Consequently a number of newly ordered cars that were fortunate enough to meet the available build specs got built before those who had been waitring for months. Another positive step on the road to customer loyalty and satisfaction.

.. and the delays continue......

I'm reminded of a comment made by one of the US Ford Engineers who expressed his surprise that the FPV engineers had managed to produce the Boss "hybrid" engine in such a short time but perhaps we are starting to understand now that there might have been a small lack of attention to detail in that development process. Not that all of the blame for the present delays can be laid at FPVs door but some of it belongs there. Either way it's the customer that gets the short end of the stick again although the lack of cash flow must be starting to bite at FPV by now. Don't ship - don't get paid.

It is admirable that FPV are making an effort to ensure that the product is free from major bugs and I am happy about that but there is also such a thing as timeliness and communication and frankly on both points the score is a big fat zero. The dealer network is fed half baked information (mostly because they aren't trusted) and thus the customer is fed a combination of half truths and garbage that isn't terribly palatable. Heaven forbid (of course) that a manufacturer would publicly acknowledge problems until well after the fact (where they get referred to as "challenges") but it would be really nice for someone to start the trend. Dreaming again I know.

In conclusion let me say that I am disappointed in the performance of the totality that is FPV. I'm sure that HJ isn't overly impressed with some of it either but as a good boss he will defend his people as he should. They are mostly good people - certainly those I've met who have a committment to excellence that must be causing them some frustration in the present unfortunate circumstances. None the less I return to the view of the paying punter. It is unacceptable that cars have sat at FPV for months (as some have) and that the car park there presently resembles a Coles car park (but with better parking). In my view it is time the game was lifted a few notches and quickly.

If this has rambled a bit then please accept my apologies. It's been edited numerous times to remove some of the detail, invective and potentially defamatory comments made in the original version.
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Old 05-17-2003, 02:50   #2 (permalink)
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Old 05-17-2003, 03:57   #3 (permalink)
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Only picked one typo...in first para.
Sorry russ could'nt resist.
Apart from that...I agree with the thrust of your post..however what can be done,are we not loyal to the Blue Oval.
How can we help to overcome these failings???
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Old 05-17-2003, 06:03   #4 (permalink)
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Although i agree with u on this russ, it seems they are already working way more hours than they usually would. It must be hard and i think that if u were doing it, u would have a completely different story. I understand peoples frustration in waiting for the cars, but when so many are on order, and considering the production line size, its a big ask. I am not making excuses for FPV, rather, just throwing up there situation.

It would be interesting to get Flints opinion on this, as then we might have a proper idea of why it takes so long to deliver.
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Old 05-17-2003, 06:21   #5 (permalink)
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Russell,
I think you have to differentiate between FPV as an engineering company and FPV as a manufacturer. I believe that FPV have engineered some excellent machines and the only small complaint I have is that they have blunted the performance chasing drivability. I also believe that they mave made a "marketing" blunder with the XR6T matching the XR8. Maybe developing the new range of engines stretched Ford/FPV too much.

The production process seems to have some problems and it's hard to argue with the facts as you present them. You are perhaps a bit harsh with the XR8 auto example. The problems were out of their control, what should they do, hold up the release of all models?
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Old 05-17-2003, 06:40   #6 (permalink)
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One of the problems is that if I were to go out tomorrow to buy a performance car, I can go to my local ford dealer and get told that I will have to wait x months for the car I want.

Or alternatively I can go around the corner to the local holden dealer and possibly pick the car I want off the lot or if I want something a little different, wait a fraction of the time that I would have to wait for the ford.

It's supply and demand, Holden can supply more but have a lesser demand. Ford has a larger demand than supply, it's good to see the blue oval selling well again but those units really need to get to the customers and out on the road.
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Old 05-17-2003, 15:59   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by John McMaster

How can we help to overcome these failings???
Hence it not us to overcome such failings, it soley rest on one mans shoulders to come clean and educate not only the public, but the dealer network as to why delivery of vehicles to consumers has staled!


Harsh! Maybe!
Worng Attitutde! Maybe
Will I continue to buy Fords in the future. YES!
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Old 05-17-2003, 16:07   #8 (permalink)
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Re: FPV - Time to Lift Your Game (long)

Quote:
Originally posted by russellw
Subtitle:...It is admirable that FPV are making an effort to ensure that the product is free from major bugs and I am happy about that but there is also such a thing as timeliness and communication and frankly on both points the score is a big fat zero. The dealer network is fed half baked information (mostly because they aren't trusted) and thus the customer is fed a combination of half truths and garbage that isn't terribly palatable. Heaven forbid (of course) that a manufacturer would publicly acknowledge problems until well after the fact (where they get referred to as "challenges") but it would be really nice for someone to start the trend. Dreaming again I know....
That right there to me is a big problem. Whilst the customer will be upset that their delivery may be late, the greater pain can come from not knowing and getting the impression that FPV doesn't care.

For mine the frustration I found, in waiting for my cars delivery, wasn't so much that it was past it's due date, but the fact that no-one took the time to tell me that it was going to be late. I was the one who ended up calling, I was the one who received some fairy story from the dealer and ultimately I was the one who ended up getting frustrated and disappointed in the buying experience.

What is surprising is that for the sake of a weekly phone call to the customer from FPV, advising of updates on the ordered vehicle or even reasons why there is a delay would, I believe, go a long way in settling customer relations.

The decision on buying a "performance" based car tends to be, in part, an emotional based one, and as such people in this buying segment tend to expect more. So at least give them the impression that FPV's on top of things and tell the customer what they need to hear.
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Old 05-17-2003, 17:47   #9 (permalink)
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It is right to say that a clear distinction needs to be made between the marketing and production efforts of FPV. The post was mostly aimed at the production efforts but let's not leave the product planning and marketing people out of the firing line either.

I was really pleased when I heard that FPV would be performing its own marketing - I've not been a fan of the efforts in that area from Ford Australia for a very long time and the prospect of some new talent offered hope for improvement. On the merchandise side of the coin it looks as if someone has the right ideas and deserves a big vote of thanks for their efforts to date - let's hope it keeps up.

Product planning and the marketing side seems to have been drinking the same stuff that the Ford people use. Let's just look at a couple of specifics:

1. The reality of the product positioning between Ford/FPV product lines has once again created a situation where the so called 'halo' vehicles do not represent the top of the performance pinnacle. Make all the excuses you like but the reality exists that the XR6T is capable of creaming not just its XR8 cousin but the entire FPV range. Good news for the turbo buyer and a disaster for the FPV one. I can already predict what this is going to do for the projected 3 year resales of the respective vehicles on a percentage basis and it isn't pretty - and off a much higher base too.

2. Further to that I gather that the SMS will have another surprise in store on the turbo front that will make the situation even worse - what are these people thinking??

3. Marketing campaigns for the FPV range? Can't comment as I can't say I'm aware of any. An indictment in itself.

4. Probably the craziest move of the lot is to reduce the dealer margin on the FPV range to the point where there is considerably greater incentive for them to sell XR8's than FPV's. Now I understand the desire to bring product to the market at competitive pricing and I'm all in favour of that but the reality is that the frontline sales people aren't stupid when it comes to calculating their (margin based) commissions. Which do you think they are going to do: sell the XR8 with a few options or the FPV (a harder sell due to the higher price) and effectively reduce their take by 40%. Tough call.

I'm being harsh here I know. But these decisions are in the public forum and therefore open to criticisim when they fail to make sense. For all the good things that are going on in Ford/FPV - there are also some things that leave the faithful wondering.
It's time for some answers but I doubt that we'll get much more than the standard platitudes and blanket defence of the "hard working and dedicated team" - which they are but which doesn't help us to understand.

Cheers
Russ
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Old 05-17-2003, 18:09   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by russellw
1. The reality of the product positioning between Ford/FPV product lines has once again created a situation where the so called 'halo' vehicles do not represent the top of the performance pinnacle. Make all the excuses you like but the reality exists that the XR6T is capable of creaming not just its XR8 cousin but the entire FPV range. Good news for the turbo buyer and a disaster for the FPV one. I can already predict what this is going to do for the projected 3 year resales of the respective vehicles on a percentage basis and it isn't pretty - and off a much higher base too.
Don't get me started on this again Russ! Think Targa Tasmania for the hero car of the entire range.

Quote:
Originally posted by russellw
2. Further to that I gather that the SMS will have another surprise in store on the turbo front that will make the situation even worse - what are these people thinking??
As I said many moons ago.. Aren't the GT buyers going to be really happy about this vehicle in the range.
Stupidity in the extreme. Great concept no doubt, but FFS.. PRICE IT ACCORDINGLY!!!!
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