As if the Japanese don’t have enough problems in China, now the Chinese are beating them at their own game: Quality.
“Many Chinese automakers are focusing on improving their quality control by introducing techniques developed in Japan and elsewhere overseas.” This assessment doesn’t come from a propaganda arm of the Chinese car industry. It comes from the voice of Japanese business, The Nikkei [sub].
The Japanese have a wary eye on increasingly scrappy Geely, the company that bought Volvo unit for $1.8b. Geely “has made a huge effort to learn from Japanese carmakers,” says the Nikkei.
Geely even does Japan one better. While Japanese companies use the 5S quality management system, Geely has 6S. And they keep Japanese terms such as “seiri” (organization) or “seisou” (cleanliness). The whiteboards, symbol for Japanese fastidious attention to detail, are everywhere.
Geely hired Japanese engineers to train their workforce. Their molds are made by Fuji Technica. “The dimensional accuracy demanded by Geely is often at the micron level, and the company’s quality standards are no lower than those at a Japanese carmaker,” said a Fujii executive.
Changan also is on a major drive to up the quality of their products. They recruited manufacturing experts from Toyota and BMW of Germany, luring them away with well-paid jobs.
We’ve gone through these phases with Japanese cars, and later with Korean cars. And when the Chinese do something, they usually don’t mess around.