The 2008 Ford Mustang carries on the Pony Car tradition

It's not everyday that an engine intake is likened to an engineering piece of art, but then not every engine intake sits beneath the hood of a Mustang. According to Paul Randle, Mustang chief engineer, it's the meticulous attention to details like the engine intake that helps make the Pony Car a quality standout to consumers.

For the second year in a row, the Mustang was the highest-ranked vehicle in the Midsize Sporty Car segment of J.D. Power and Associates Initial Quality Survey (IQS). The report measures problems per 100 (pp100) vehicles as reported by customers after having driven their new vehicles for three months.

And the J.D. Power and Associates 2007 Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout StudyTM (APEAL) study just named Mustang the highest ranked vehicle in the Midsize Sporty Car segment -- for the second straight year.

"Our whole team works with the same philosophy," Randle said. "Let's get it fixed and protect the customer."

Quality in the Mustang is maximized through a strategy of containing problems at the first incident that's reported on the assembly line at the AutoAlliance International (AAI) plant in Flat Rock, Mich. By continually monitoring the vehicle's quality and addressing concerns as they arise, Mustangs are delivered to customers with a minimum of pp100 and maximum quality.

The system is working. Not only did Mustang score high in the IQS, but the Ford Shelby GT 500 and the Mustang ranked No. 1 and 2, respectively, in GQRS segment for Things-Gone-Wrong (TGW).

For example, take the Mustang's hood.

"The hood on the Mustang is a sizable expanse of aluminum," Randle said. "With a hood surface like that, any dent or flaw would be noticed immediately."

Class 1 surfaces like the hood are produced to a high level and examined as it goes through the assembly process to avoid any imperfections.

Similarly, flushness of fit has been a high priority on the Mustang ever since launch of the Pony Car's current redesign.

"Margins and flushness are within a millimeter," Randle said. "We knew the way components fit together is a major sign of quality for customers, so we invested in the body shop to make sure our margins are impeccable."

Customers agree. A recent customer clinic held by Randle and his team confirms the Mustang's build quality.

"It's a mindset that emphasizes a constant attention to detail," Randle said. "It's continuous process, and our team is dedicated to getting things right."

Good build quality is only part of the Mustang story, the other being the amount of detail lavished on the car's design. Qualities from the car's look down to the sound of the exhaust, what Randle calls the Mustang's "functionals," help drive the perception of the Mustang's quality.

"The exhaust note on the Mustang had to be high quality," Randle said. "It can't be too loud, but aggressive enough to let a driver know about the power beneath that hood. The exhaust note talks back to the driver and lets the customer know we engineer quality into this aspect of their vehicle."

That talk back has not only pleased customers, but wowed auto writers as well.

"Then there's what may be my favorite feature of the whole car: the engine's throaty growl," wrote Thane Peterson in Business Week Online. "Think of the sound of Steve McQueen redlining a 1968 Mustang GT through the hills of San Francisco in the movie Bullitt."

Frank Aukofer, auto critic for the Washington Times, put it even simpler terms. "You'd buy it for the sound alone."

By combining a first-class design with first-class production techniques, the Mustang has scored a hit with consumers. Ford, however, is not resting on its laurels.

"Quality is a continuous process," Randle said. "The whole team works on Mustang's quality with a passion and we have a lot more coming in the future."

For more Pictures go to the Mustang Image Gallery

DEARBORN, July 6, 2007
Source: Ford Mustang news from the Ford Motor Company

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