The quality of our products and services plays a key role in maintaining customer satisfaction. Customers are particularly satisfied and loyal when their expectations of a product or service are met or even exceeded. Appeal, reliability and service determine quality as it is perceived by the customer throughout the entire product experience. Our objective is to positively surprise our customers and inspire enthusiasm in all areas, and thus to win them over with our outstanding quality.
In the reporting period, we transferred operational tasks such as damage analysis from the Group to individual brands and rearranged strategic topics at Group level. This will underpin the principle “The Group manages the brands, the brands manage the regions and the regions manage the factories” and strengthen networks across the brands at the same time.
Strategy of Group Quality
When enhancing our future program, we also reviewed our functional area strategy in depth and coordinated it with the brands. We continue to embody outstanding quality and ensure reliable mobility for our customers worldwide. This is the strategic goal that guides our actions. Group Quality and the brands’ quality organizations play an active role at all stages of product emergence and testing, making an important contribution to successful product launches, high customer satisfaction and low warranty and goodwill costs.
Advancing digitalization continues to be a major challenge for us: software is increasingly becoming a priority for the Group as the importance of smart functions in our products and services grows. In the reporting year, we sharpened the focus of our activities on the “Automotive SPICE” process assessment model that we use to improve our processes, in order to ensure future viability in the field of software-based system development. In doing so, we are staying abreast of the progressive regulation, for example of autonomous driving functions.
Furthermore, we are developing Group-wide standards on cybersecurity so as to protect the users of our vehicles against possible attacks. The UNECE (United Nations Economic Commission for Europe) provides for corresponding certification and homologation in the future to ensure that companies can guarantee that these aspects are dealt with properly. This gives rise to the need for Volkswagen to review its organizational structures and processes and adjust these as required. In this context, we have begun to implement an Automotive Cyber Security Management System (ACSMS) that will be incorporated into the quality management system.
The strategy of Group Quality developed in this context comprises the following four goals:
- We will excite our customers with our outstanding quality by understanding what exactly they perceive as quality and implementing this in our products.
- We will contribute to competitive products with optimal quality costs by ensuring robust processes, thereby reducing the expense involved in testing each vehicle.
- In critical business processes, we will reinforce the principle of multiple-party verification and monitor achievement of milestones even more closely.
- We will become an excellent employer by promoting the personal development of every single employee even more intensively.
To achieve our goals, we are working on a variety of quality initiatives. All are focused on the topics that are decisive to the success of the quality organizations in the Volkswagen Group.
Contributing to the Group’s strategic indicators
We use a strategic indicator to measure the contribution of Group Quality in the major passenger car-producing brands at the top level of consideration.
- Tow-in 12 MIS. This indicator shows the number of vehicles that need to be towed to a dealer per 1,000 vehicles after 12 months in service (MIS). It includes all Group vehicles categorized as tow-ins by dealers in the German market. It also includes vehicles which, after being taken to a repair workshop, are unable to continue driving without restriction. The number of Volkswagen Group tow-ins in the German market has fallen fairly steadily in the last five years. All six brands featured saw their performance improve year-on-year. The brands’ ratios for the 2018 production year are within or slightly above the target corridor in each case. Quality is the Volkswagen Group’s top priority. All of the Group brands are therefore striving to continuously reduce the number of vehicles that need to be towed to a dealer.
Legal and regulatory compliance
The legal and regulatory compliance of our products is paramount in our work. In our processes we employ the principle of multiple-party verification, which involves mutual support and control between the divisions. Software development is accompanied by quality milestones at all brands, whereby all systems, components and parts that directly influence a vehicle’s safety, type approval and functioning and therefore require particular vigilance are safeguarded through multiple-party verification. At the series production stage, we are also ensuring even more stringently than before that the conformity checks on our products are carried out and assessed with the participation of all business units involved. This applies particularly to emissions and fuel consumption.
We are also dedicating even more attention to our quality management system than before, reinforcing the process-driven approach Group-wide across all business areas. The quality management system in the Volkswagen Group is based on the standard ISO 9001. This standard must be complied with for us to obtain type approval for the manufacture and sale of our vehicles. We conducted numerous system audits in the reporting period to verify that our locations and brands comply with the requirements of the standard. Particular focus was placed on assessing the risk of non-compliance with defined processes. Our quality management consultants pay attention to ensuring that these and other new requirements, as well as official regulations, are implemented and complied with; they are supported in this endeavor by a central office in Group Quality.
With these and other measures, the quality organizations are helping to ensure that we as a manufacturer and our products meet the legal and official requirements.
Observing regional requirements
Our customers in the different regions of the world have very diverse needs as far as new vehicle models are concerned. Another important task is therefore to identify and prioritize these regional factors so that they can be reflected in the development of new products and the production of established vehicle models – together with other important criteria such as the quality of locally available fuel, road conditions, traffic density, country-specific usage patterns and, last but not least, local legislation. We mainly use market studies and customer surveys to determine region-specific customer requirements.
To ensure that the perceived quality of our vehicles is at a level commensurate with that of our competitors, we take regional customer needs into account in our vehicle audits. Every brand works together with the individual regions to decide how its product is to be positioned there. This enables us to strengthen the responsibility of the brands and invest less in features that do not resonate with customers. To ensure that the audit returns comparable results, consistent quality benchmarks apply across all brands and regions. We are continually adapting these to changing requirements. For more than 40 years now, we have been deploying auditors around the world to assess, from the customer’s perspective, those vehicles that are ready for delivery and to ensure that these vehicles comply with the benchmarks defined.