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LORDSTOWN GM invites car buyers' feedback at plant



Published: Thu, August 23, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



Car owners can give plant officials a ride to point out problems with their cars.

By DON SHILLING

VINDICATOR BUSINESS EDITOR

LORDSTOWN -- Managers at General Motors' Lordstown Assembly Plant have invited car owners to the plant Saturday to give them a first-hand account of how the cars produced there do in the real world.

Tom Mock, a plant spokesman, said he think this is the first time a GM plant has been host of such an event.

GM asked about a dozen area car dealers to select between 10 and 15 car owners each. The only requirement was that they bought a Chevrolet Cavalier or Pontiac Sunfire within the last 60 to 90 days.

Mock said 100 people have said they would come but he is hoping to have 200 car owners there for the three-hour event, which will conclude with a barbecue lunch.

To address problems: Any minor problems with the cars will be fixed, while arrangements will be made for major repairs.

Mock said, however, that the main purpose of the event is to help plant officials build better cars.

For years, plant officials have closely watched the results of the J.D. Power initial quality survey to gauge the quality of the cars produced there.

Raw numbers only tell so much, however, Mock said. Plant officials want to know what is causing a rattle or a squeak so it can be fixed, he said.

"You have to dig deep to try to find it," he said.

Saturday's activities will help plant officials understand problems better because they will be able to talk to car owners. The owners will be able to point out problems or take plant officials for a ride, he said.

"To share the experience with them will be a tremendous advantage for us," he said.

Slight improvement: In this year's J.D. Power quality ratings, cars produced at Lordstown improved slightly. The plant's products averaged 163 problems per 100 cars, which was three less than last year's average.

The number was above GM's average of 146 problems, but Mock pointed out that the plant is producing cars that haven't been redesigned since 1995.

The top assembly plant in North America was Toyota's plant in Cambridge, Ontario, which averaged 96 problems per 100 vehicles.

shilling@vindy.com




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