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Ford’s Top Reliability Exec Retires After CEO Says Quality Wasn’t Job No. 1 Recently

Ford's recent spate of recalls and production flubs haven't gone unnoticed.

Ford’s top quality executive retired this week after numerous complaints about durability and warranty issues stacked up. The automaker announced Wednesday that Stuart Rowley would step down after 32 years with the company, to be replaced by current VP Jim Baumbick. 

Ford CEO Jim Farley announced the retirement and appointment in a statement Nov. 2. 

“We’ve made more progress on our launch quality and initial quality, you could see it in the surveys and our ramp-up of production,” Farley said in May according to The Associated Press. “However, we are not satisfied at all with our quality performance, including our recalls and customer satisfaction efforts, which we need to quickly accelerate.”

“Quality is our No.1 priority as a company and Jim Baumbick is the right leader to deliver world-class quality and reliability at Ford with a disciplined process that runs from our supply chain to our engineering labs all the way to the factory floor,” Farley said in a statement Nov. 2.

The company has been plagued with several quality issues, including recalls for engine firestire-pressure sensors in its flagship F-150 Lightning truck, wheels falling off, battery issues in the Mustang Mach-Eand engine fires (again). 

“It’s very frustrating for our customers, and so we’re doing everything we can to accommodate them with the right policies to support them when they do have a problem, and rest assured this management team is completely committed to fixing our gap to competition and return the company to being benchmark,” Farley said in May, according to the AP. 

This year, Ford scored above average in the JD Power Initial Quality Survey after flagging for several years, scoring at or below average since 2017 when it was the second-highest-ranked non-premium brand. 

Perhaps intentionally, Ford hired former JD Power analyst Josh Halliburton to be executive director of quality in January. For now, Baumbick will lead Ford’s charge back to quality, or back to Job No. 1. 

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Clarification: This story has been updated to clarify Jim Farley’s quotes at a meeting in May.