• During an executive test drive just months before product launch, Daimler Chrysler officials declared a no-launch decision because of excessive vehicle vibration for the company’s newly designed Dodge Ram Mega Cab 4×4 pickup. • Cummins Inc. , manufacturer of the truck’s diesel engine, immediately chartered a Six Sigma team and employed the DMAIC problem-solving process to diagnose and correct the factors leading to the high vibration levels. • Through extensive testing, the Six Sigma team determined that by increasing the crankshaft counterweight radius, vibrations were significantly reduced.
• The Cummins’ team completed the DMAIC project in an extraordinary time frame — just over four months — resulting in a 16% reduction in vibration levels and a 100% increase in sales of the truck in the first year compared to sales projections. It was less than nine months before Daimler Chrysler launched its new 2006 Dodge Ram Mega Cab 4×4 pickup when top company executives tested vehicle prototypes during a semi-annual executive ride-and-drive session. During the test drives, the automaker’s executives determined that excessive engine vibrations felt in the cab created a no-launch situation.
The company then turned to Cummins Inc. , supplier of the vehicle’s 5. 9-liter turbo-diesel engine, looking to dramatically reduce the vibration levels—and quickly! Cummins, which already had a successful companywide Six Sigma program in place, immediately launched a Six Sigma project to tackle the vibration problem. Cummins Inc. deployed a Six Sigma team to reduce engine vibration just six months prior to the September 2005 launch of the new Dodge Ram Mega Cab 4×4 pickup.
Recognizing consumer demand for better fuel economy and reduced emissions, both Toyota and Honda have introduced hybrid vehicles to the American market. Toyota introduced the Prius to the U. S. in 2000. Honda began selling the hybrid two-seater Insight in the U. S. in 1999. U. S. Sales in the hybrid vehicle industry have increased over 570 percent since model year 20001. Today, hybrid vehicles hold a 1% market share in the U. S. ,2 and there are three models of hybrid vehicles dominating the market: the Toyota Prius, Honda Insight, and the Honda Civic Hybrid.
The Toyota Prius Toyota’s initial marketing strategy for the Prius targeted innovators and early adopters of new technologies. * The 2000 “Prius/genius” campaign focused on highlighting Toyota’s commitment to creating environmentally responsible vehicles4 and on using online space to engage technophiles early on in the production process. Toyota enabled interested customers to visit a special website about Prius development as early as two years before the introduction of the product.
Toyota used focus groups and clinics with target consumers to evaluate different aspects of the Prius. Toyota found that the consumers valued high technology, affordable price, clean operation, comfort, quality, convenient design, and safety. Toyota’s television and print ads underscored the evolutionary aspects of hybrid technology and freedom from dependence on oil. Toyota created online e-brochures with a 17-second video clip that were sent to the almost 44,000 people. 5 In addition, Toyota benefited from various celebrity endorsements that attracted attention to the new Prius.