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GM recruits Toyota vet as quality expert

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GM recruits Toyota vet as quality expert

 
Old 02-17-2003, 01:37 AM
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GM recruits Toyota vet as quality expert

DETROIT -- General Motors has hired a retired Toyota Motor Corp. executive to improve the reliability and durability of GM vehicles.

Tatsuhiko Yoshimura, 60, began work at GM last week. He will critique GM's sourcing, decision-making, and testing and validation procedures and then will propose changes, says Jim Queen, vice president of GM North America engineering.

The hiring repeats GM's pattern in hiring Robert Lutz as product guru: going outside for an expert to attack a key issue. CFO John Devine, a former Ford Motor Co. finance chief, was another critical outside hire.

"We're doing this more and more as a company," Queen says. "I think we're opening up."

But there are differences. Yoshimura will be in a consulting role, reporting to Queen, while Lutz and Devine are vice chairmen.

Yoshimura is an expert in quality as part of the product development process, Queen says. Yoshimura will co-chair GM's reliability board, paying particular attention to GM's standards for long-term parts reliability.

Expect culture change

Yoshimura developed a quality process he calls "GD3: good design, good discussion and good design review" while at Toyota. He has since published a book and lectured on this process.

Yoshimura says he does not plan to overlay the Toyota system on GM's vehicle development process. But culture change is part of his mission, he says.

"The organization has to be open about problems, and everyone must understand that they have a role to play," Yoshimura said in a statement issued internally.

GM's search for a reliability expert included candidates outside the automotive industry, spokesman Al Gagne says. Queen interviewed three finalists in Japan in November before hiring Yoshimura.

No job title has been assigned. Yoshimura's position is nonpermanent although his term may be extended beyond the original two years, Gagne says.

Yoshimura retired from Toyota in 2000 after 32 years at the company that is widely viewed as the world's highest-quality automaker. He last served as general manager for chassis engineering and senior staff engineer for reliability and strength. He is a professor of mechanical engineering science at Kyushu University in Fukuoka, Japan.

GM has made progress

GM vehicles have made progress in the J.D. Power and Associates Initial Quality Study. In last year's survey, GM placed fifth, outranking such Japanese automakers as Nissan and Mitsubishi. GM also had the highest-rated North American plant, Oshawa (Ontario) No. 2, and four vehicles rated best in segment.

Queen says it will take several years to see whether stronger initial quality translates to long-term reliability.

Hiring Yoshimura doesn't mean GM is dissatisified with its current processes, Queen says. But, he says, "I don't want to wait four or five years to figure out that the best-laid plans were not as robust as they should be.''

Jeff Schuster, director of product analysis for J.D. Power and Associates in Troy, Mich., says GM needs to keep pushing for long-term quality: "You don't want to sit back and wait. You want to strive for initial quality, of course, but long-term durability has a lot to do with repeat purchases." c
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Old 02-17-2003, 10:19 AM
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Very nice. Go GM. Show the world that USAmericans can make quality cars.
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Old 02-17-2003, 10:31 AM
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How about puting some "german" coaches on the Assembly line?
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Old 02-17-2003, 01:12 PM
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im quite impressed with GM...they see a problem, and dont bs themselves...just try and solve it
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Old 02-17-2003, 01:44 PM
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Originally posted by Nashua_Night_Hawk
How about puting some "german" coaches on the Assembly line?
Why?
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Old 02-17-2003, 01:45 PM
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Originally posted by bkknight369
im quite impressed with GM...they see a problem, and dont bs themselves...just try and solve it
I love seeing them do that. I really, really wonna see GM and Ford start kicking some European and Japanese a$$ on the cars front. Enough already. The resources both have together other manufacturers can only dream of. We just need some new brains and realigned strategy and focus. Let's see.
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Old 02-17-2003, 03:56 PM
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GM will never improve quality as long as they count selling rentals as sales and keep squeezing suppliers so tight, they can't help but make cheap crap.
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