Canadian Manufacturing

Fiat Chrysler’s quality chief quits after poor reliability reports

Fiat Chrysler vehicles fared worst in the Consumer Reports rankings this year



DETROIT—Doug Betts, Fiat Chrysler’s longtime quality chief, abruptly left the company one day after its brands performed poorly in Consumer Reports magazine’s annual reliability rankings.

Fiat Chrysler said in a statement that Betts, who has been with Chrysler for the past seven years, exited the company to pursue other interests. He was immediately replaced by Mark Chernoby, who will head quality for the global company, and Matthew Liddane, who will lead Chrysler Group quality in North America.

Betts, who was senior vice-president of quality, joined Chrysler in November of 2007 after more than 21 years of quality experience at Nissan, Toyota, Michelin and General Motors. But he had trouble fixing the company’s longstanding quality problems, and it continually fared poorly in the influential Consumer Reports rankings.

Sergio Marchionne, CEO of the newly merged company, has shown little patience with executives whose performances fall short of expectations. He’s often changed his top managers since taking control of the company after it emerged from a U.S. government-sponsored bankruptcy in 2009.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles fared worst in the Consumer Reports rankings this year. The Dodge, Ram, Jeep and Fiat brands occupied the bottom four spots of 28 brands ranked by the magazine. Chrysler was the company’s highest-ranked brand at No. 22. Jeep, Ram, Dodge and Chrysler all dropped from last year’s rankings.

The new nine-speed transmission in the Jeep Cherokee was among the company’s headaches.

Chernoby, who now serves as FCA’s head of product development, will keep that position in addition to his quality duties. Liddane, a longtime Chrysler engineer, previously was vice-president of systems and components for Chrysler Group. He has served as chief engineer for Jeep products and led the company’s new compact car efforts.

The Toyota and Lexus brands topped the Consumer Reports survey, while the Scion brand was in the top 10. It’s the eighth year in a row that a Toyota brand has led the rankings.

Consumer Reports’ annual survey is closely watched by the auto industry, since many potential buyers follow the Yonkers, N.Y.-based company’s recommendations.

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