GM Engineering Boss: We'll Be A Quality Leader Too!

Michael Karesh
by Michael Karesh
gm engineering boss we ll be a quality leader too

Earlier this week Chrysler talked about taking real steps to improve its quality. Today it’s GM. Mark Reuss, GM’s head of engineering, had this to say to the Detroit Free Press:

Reliability has been the Achilles’ heel of GM for my entire career,” he said, promising he would focus the company’s engineers around the world on fixing the problem. “It gets down to an individual engineer’s ability to find a problem and leadership’s ability to fix it,” he said, adding that too many GM engineers have been reluctant to point out problems because they were afraid they’d get the blame rather than praise for catching the mistake before customers suffered.

It’s refreshing to hear Reuss speaking so candidly. But such talk isn’t entirely new. Will the talk translate into action and results this time around? Unlike Chrysler, Reuss didn’t mention any concrete steps being taken to get there other than not firing people who bring up quality problems.

Too many of GM’s recent launches have been rough. I see this in responses to TrueDelta’s Car Reliability Survey. For example, there seem to be some Lambda crossovers that are simply not fixable. On the other hand, the Malibu has been solid from the start.

TrueDelta’s results promptly update four times a year. So when GM does launch a solid product (or not), that information will often appear here first: Car Reliability Survey results

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  • Bigbadbill Bigbadbill on Nov 20, 2009

    Man!......glued on hinges?.... avoiding GM drivers? Wow!... Is the moon full?

  • CarPerson CarPerson on Nov 20, 2009

    In about 1980 Wards Auto World did a big write-up on GM buying Honda Accords and dismantling them to learn why people raved about them so much. The idea was to benchmark them and beat whatever they were doing. Pictures showed parts laying all over the shop floor. Nothing, absolutely nothing came of it. In 30 years they still have not matched Honda. GM’s strength, with precious little exception, is to design and build the cheapest, unreliable, undependable, poor quality vehicle they can, inflate the sticker, then “discount” the hell out of it with a dozen phony rebates to make it look like it’s a good deal. Nothing demonstrates this more clearly than a program to return the car if you don’t want it but $500 in your pocket if you take a pass on the program.

    • Daniel J. Stern Daniel J. Stern on Nov 20, 2009

      I understand in the early 1970s Honda made a set of cylinder heads to suit the Chevrolet small-block V8, with which the engine easily passed the newly-tightened emission regulations. It also gave much better driveability and made more power on less fuel. GM chose to carry on chortling and dismissing Japanese cars out of one side of their mouths, while throwing enormous money at lobbyists to whine for a rollback in the "impossible" emission standards. Whether this particular story is apocryphal doesn't really matter, owing to so many damn-near-identical examples of GM's perpetual collective craniorectal impaction. Ordinarily I'd be tempted to say GM's left hand doesn't know what their right hand is doing, but it's pretty clear what both hands are doing. It's something that used to involve a locked bathroom door and an adult magazine, more recently involves remembering to clear the browser cache and history afterward, and is not something we talk about in more specific detail in a family publication such as this.

  • Carlson Fan Carlson Fan on Nov 20, 2009
    "Although I’ve seen that almost all Chevvy Tahoe drivers seem to be on the phone lately…maybe they’re talking to each other?" We're all calling each other about the guy in the funny looking little Mazda talking to himself. If I could get past the cartoonish styling of a Mazda I might give them a look. No I guess I really couldn't. To be honest I'd almost forgot that they even sold cars in the US.
  • OldWingGuy OldWingGuy on Nov 21, 2009

    Years ago I used to do wheel alignments. I lived for Chevy half-ton trucks. The lower ball joints would be worn out, guaranteed. And the flat-rate time was generous. Cha-ching. One guy decided to do it himself. Took his truck home, installed brand-new ball joints he bought from the GM dealer down the street. Brought it back for the wheel alignment. They were worn out. I knew he would complain, and rightly so. I went so far as to set up the dial indicator, laid out the service manual, and brought him out to show him. He was heading back to the GM sealer, furious. Brand new ball joints. Worn out. You had to laugh.