Automakers Urged to Stop Building ‘Unicorns’

As automakers reopen plants that were idled because of the coronavirus crisis, they should address a longstanding industry issue: way too many variations built off the same vehicle.

So says Doug Betts, president of J.D. Power’s automotive division and a former Fiat Chrysler executive in charge of manufacturing quality control.

He puts it this way: Most vehicles can be built in thousands of different configurations based on, among other things, a combination of engine, transmission, powertrain and optional equipment.

For model year ’19, 13.6 million vehicles were sold to retail buyers. Not accounting for color, those sales were generated by more than 600,000 unique configurations of vehicles. (Betts, left)