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Can Chrysler Match Japanese Quality?

Taking “Yes” for an answer.

by on Apr.30, 2012

A pair of Dodge Dart bodies roll down the Belvidere assembly line.

It’s one of the industry’s older plants and one that has not had an especially distinguished history.  Not until now, anyway.  But going forward, Chrysler officials are determined to transform their Belvidere, Illinois assembly plant into one of the best in the business.

That can be measured in a variety of ways, of course, and Chrysler clearly hopes to turn the facility, two hours outside of Chicago, into one of the industry’s most productive.  But volume alone won’t matter, cautions Senior Vice President Doug Betts, if the new Dodge Darts starting to roll off the Belvidere line can’t match the quality of the best competitors like the Honda Civic or Toyota Corolla.

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“We have to be substantially better” than ever before, says Betts, who built his reputation during lengthy stints for both Toyota and Nissan before joining Chrysler in 2007.  That’s especially difficult he says, as he begins a tour of the Illinois plant, for a company that has long lingered “at the bottom” of the quality charts.