Quality, Design and Chrysler

This is a guest post by Laurel Nelson-Rowe, ASQ managing director.

Klaus Busse

Earlier this month I had the pleasure of attending the 2012 ASQ Automotive Division Awards. The event’s keynote speaker, Klaus Busse (left), head of interior design at the Chrysler Group, entertained the audience with lessons learned through tough economic times as well as through award triumphs bestowed on Chrysler vehicles lately. You can see slides and photos from his presentation.

For Busse, Chrysler’s resurgence and movement beyond bankruptcy have been founded on “fixing design” of everything, everywhere. He described how quality, passion, detail, and design unite to create emotional and sensory experiences in the cars of today, and even more so in the autos and driving experiences to come.

Busse presents at the event.

Another lesson from Busse is to “address the senses…to design, think, and use materials that create a beautiful touch of the steering wheel…We talk quality in terms of the smell of the leather, the touch of the steering wheel, the quiet of the cabin.”

Chrysler design and quality have also combined to deliver on yet another lesson in the Busse book: “Give it soul,” played out in Chrysler Motor ads and its tagline, “Imported from Detroit.”  According to Busse, the tagline and the products coming out of Detroit by his employer and those in the U.S. auto industry generally are challenging perceptions of quality, design, and reliability.

As Busse closed out his remarks, noting the design and development of the new Dodge Dart, it got me thinking of my first car, a 1972 Dodge Dart vinyl-topped sedan. Its quality and reliability got me to work at summer jobs, through college, a move to the East Coast, marriage, and more. And the steering wheel was leather wrapped.

What do you recall of the quality, reliability, design, detail, and soul of the cars from your past? What do you seek in the driving experiences of your future?

(For more on the changing meaning of automobile quality on View From the Q, check out this 2011 video interview with Ford’s quality chief.)

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