It was in 1979 in the United Kingdom. I had just been elevated to president of Ford Europe and was conducting my first monthly quality meeting.
Ford’s quality was about average for Europe at the time, but we were having a major problem with our UK-built four- cylinder engines: camshafts (an essential part that controls the valves) were wearing out at a totally unacceptable rate. Some camshafts failed after as little as 10,000 miles, few lasted more than 15,000 miles, and the bulk of the repeat failures occurred soon after the expiration of the then-prevalent 12,000-mile warranty.
I asked what we were going to do to achieve industry- standard durability on camshafts. Manufacturing and Engineering had a number of solutions, all requiring some increase in parts cost and a nominal investment in equipment. I authorized these on the spot, and emphasized the need for speed in incorporating the changes.