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March 5, 2003

DEARBORN, Mich. -- Ford Motor Co.'s Six Sigma quality program saved the company about $350 million worldwide last year, the most since the automaker adopted it, Vice President Louise Goeser said in an interview.

The 2002 results account for more than half of about $675 million in savings since Ford, the world's second-largest automaker, started using Six Sigma in 1999. Six Sigma was invented by Motorola Inc. and popularized by General Electric Co. It uses statistical tools to correct quality problems.

"We've stripped waste out of the system," said Goeser, who is vice president in charge of quality. About $180 million of the 2002 savings occurred in North America, she said. The company wants to cut automotive costs this year by $500 million to offset higher health-care and pension expenses.

Ford, which had a 2002 net loss of $980 million, or 55 cents a share, has forecast 2003 net income of 70 cents. Analysts expect 51 cents, according to a survey by Thomson First Call updated on Feb. 28.

Last year, Ford placed fifth out of seven automakers in a J.D. Power & Associates survey that measures consumer complaints in the first 90 days of vehicle ownership. It finished last in 2001. Ford had 143 complaints per 100 vehicles in 2002, while Toyota Motor Corp. scored the best with 107.

Goeser said she was "optimistic" Ford would improve in this year's survey.
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