Further to writing about British carmakers’ inability to recognise the impact of poor quality on sales to American buyers, my good friend Mike Dale sent me these anecdotes, which really highlights the problem:
“The quality issue was simply a lack of interest by Sir William Lyons and Lofty England. They simply didn't grasp its importance. Blessed still with the arrogance of Empire they really didn't believe they made poor cars, and didn't like an upstart young man from the USA (especially one born in Britain) telling them so”.
“When I first took over Jaguar’s U.S. marketing in 1970 I had a District Service Manager, Guy Larkins, do a survey of Repair Orders in a Jaguar/Mercedes dual dealer workshop.”
“The result was a book, which showed we had triple the service problems that Mercedes had in the same time frame.
|'Lofty' England (L) and Sir William Lyons at Browns Lane|
I made a presentation to Sir William and Lofty, which ended by my giving Sir William a copy of the book. He didn't open it, just passed it to Lofty, and that's the last I heard of it!”
Mike Dale added another great story from that turbulent era of British industrial relations:
“Ford appointed Bill Hayden (right), then Ford’s VP of Manufacturing for Europe, to lead Jaguar, to try and pull Jaguar Cars into shape.”
“Bill Hayden was a VERY TOUGH manager. He wrought a miracle within eighteen months of taking over Jaguar management. Without changing suppliers, or the production line, he brought tremendous discipline (unheard of in Jaguar’s history), which took the 1992 model XJ40 from the bottom of the J.D. Power long term quality index to half way up.”
|Mike Dale with 1995 X300|
“It's what should have been done in the 1980's but we had to deal with the very recalcitrant unions at that time without any recourse. Ford was in a different position, and Bill Hayden solved the problem by telling them that they had to drop all the accumulated union rules, and start afresh if Jaguar was to continue at Browns Lane. If the unions wanted to continue their old ways, Ford would build the cars elsewhere.”
“The vote was close, but common sense prevailed, and we started from scratch.”