The new Ford Explorer may be one of the company’s best-selling models but it was definitely not launched smoothly. The large SUV has already been recalled at least 10 times (literally) but the automaker is positive the quality level of its new-vehicle launches is getting better and better.
Hau Thai-Tang, Ford's VP of product development and purchasing, told Automotive News he is pleased with current launches. While he admitted the issues surrounding the launch of the Bronco and Mustang Mach-E, he described them as “very typical” especially in times of a global crisis.
“Overall we've been very happy with the launches so far,” Thai-Tang said in the interview. “If you think about this last year, we had three big launches, and we hit all of those launch dates and ramp volume curves pretty much to plan after we adjusted for the COVID shutdown.”
Addressing the reports of F-150 trucks being inspected around plants in Michigan and Missouri, he said these are normal steps in Ford's build-and-hold process. More importantly, he added that the inspections don’t impact the delivery of production vehicles to customers.
“We have connected-vehicle data now, so we're able to see in real-time some of the initial-quality results,” he explained. “So far the run rate at zero months in service, we're seeing about 45 percent lower quality claims this year than the same period last year. It's another proof point the process is working.”
As far as the delayed launches of the new Bronco and the Mustang Mach-E are concerned, Thai-Tang explained these are the result of an “industrialization issue” with a single supplier. In the Bronco’s case, this supplier is Webasto which has problems delivering the roof. For the Mustang Mach-E, Thai-Tang declined to name the supplier.
“In both cases, they're complex issues with tools that were installed with overseas support,” he said. “It was complicated by COVID absenteeism, but we're on the right path.”