Group Quality Management
The quality of our products and services plays a key role in maintaining customer satisfaction. Customers are particularly satisfied and remain 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 and excite our customers in all areas and thus win them over with our outstanding quality.
Strategy of Group Quality Management
We embody outstanding quality and ensure dependable mobility for our customers worldwide – this is the strategic goal that guides the work of Group Quality Management. Along with the brands’ quality organizations, Group Quality Management plays an active role at all stages of product creation and testing. Through this work, we make an important contribution to successful product start-ups, high customer satisfaction and low warranty and goodwill costs.
We have further enhanced the Group Quality Management strategy as part of our future program TOGETHER – Strategy 2025. Focal areas include digitalization, new technologies and business areas as well as uniform processes, methods and standards at all brands.
Increasing progress in digitalization is also a major challenge for the Volkswagen Group: an increasing number of digital products and services are being developed and brought to market. To continue to ensure the familiar level of quality and safety amid this diversity, we must adapt our quality measures accordingly. The increase in functional diversity and complexity of driver assistance systems, extending all the way to autonomous vehicles, means that software is growing in scope. Here we need to enhance the methods we use to support selected critical features of software development and safeguard quality requirements. We are also taking advantage of the progress in digital technology to further optimize our own processes and structures. For example, we use virtual measurement technologies or big data analyses when vehicles on the market encounter quality problems.
In this context, Group Quality Management has further developed its strategy in consultation with the Group brands. This comprises the following four goals:
- We will excite our customers with outstanding quality by understanding the features of the quality that resonates with them and implementing these 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 every single employee’s personal development even more intensively.
To achieve our goals, we have been working on a total of 15 quality initiatives since mid-2016. All are focused on the topics that will be decisive to the future success of the quality organizations at the Volkswagen Group.
Contributing to the Group’s strategic indicators
We use a strategic indicator to measure the contribution of Quality Management at the major passenger car-producing brands.
- Tow-in 12 MIS. This figure shows the number of vehicles that need to be towed to a dealer per 1,000 vehicles after 12 months in service. It includes all Group vehicles categorized as tow-in by dealers in the German market. In the 2016 production year, the Volkswagen Group’s tow-in statistics in the German market improved slightly compared with 2014 and 2015. Of the six brands featured, Volkswagen Passenger Cars, Audi and ŠKODA saw their performance improve, while the SEAT, Porsche and Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles brands recorded a slight downward trend.
We also use a strategic indicator to measure our success for trucks and buses:
- Claims per vehicle 12 MIS Truck. This figure incorporates the number of claims related to liability for material defects per 1,000 vehicles after 12 months in service. MAN and Scania each collect this data for their products from across the globe. Through systematic quality management, both brands continued to exhibit a downward trend in the reporting period.
Legal and regulatory compliance
The diesel issue showed that we must check the compliance of our products more intensively. We have therefore reinforced application of the principle of multiple-party verification – which involves mutual support and control between the divisions – and introduced important additional processes, including in software security. At the Volkswagen Passenger Cars brand, for example, the development of software will be accompanied by quality milestones from 2017: The principle of multiple-party verification safeguards the systems and components or parts that directly influence a vehicle’s safety, type approval and functioning and therefore require increased vigilance. At the series production stage, we are working even harder to carry out conformity checks on our products with the participation of all business units involved and to perform assessments on this basis. This applies particularly to emissions and fuel consumption.
We are also placing greater emphasis on our quality management system than before, reinforcing the process-driven approach Group-wide across all business areas. Quality management in the Volkswagen Group is based on the ISO 9001 standard: the requirements of this standard must be met to obtain the type approval for producing and selling 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, which was revised in 2015. The major focus was on the risk assessment for non-compliance with agreed processes. To ensure that these and other new requirements as well as official regulations are implemented and complied with, Group Quality Management is available to support the quality management consultants.
With these and other measures, Group Quality Management is helping to ensure that we not only meet all legal requirements imposed on us as a manufacturer, but that our products do as well.
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 of Group Quality Management is 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.
The perceived quality of our vehicles must be at a level commensurate with that of our competitors. We therefore redesigned the vehicle audit during the reporting period and tailored it more closely to regional customer needs. Every brand works together with the individual regions to decide the responsibility of the brands and enables us to invest less in features that do not resonate with customers. To make the results comparable, consistent quality benchmarks apply across all markets and regions. For more than 40 years now, auditors have therefore been deployed around the world to ensure compliance with these benchmarks by carrying out an assessment from the customer’s perspective of the vehicles that are ready for delivery. We continually revise the quality benchmarks on which such audits are based to adapt them to the changing requirements.