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. Reliability, appeal 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. We continued to aspire to this objective in 2015. At the same time, however, events in the reporting period showed us that we have to expand our current understanding of quality: going forward, Quality Assurance will focus more intensively than before on the compliance of our products.
As a result of the emissions issue, we will place even greater emphasis than in the past on our quality management system. A process-driven approach across all business areas will be reinforced throughout the Group. Quality management in the Volkswagen Group is based on the standard ISO 9001: the requirements of this standard must be met to obtain the operating license and type approval for producing and selling our vehicles. The standard was revised in the reporting period; one of the main substantive revisions made concerns risk assessments for non-compliant processes. To ensure that these and other revisions are uniformly implemented throughout the Group, Quality Assurance developed a concept in 2015, setting out guidelines, recommendations and tips for the quality management consultants for the individual brands, and supported them in the process of implementation.
As a further step, we have reinforced application of the dual control principle – mutual support and control between the divisions – and built up further core expertise in quality assurance. This includes setting up control mechanisms between Technical Development and Quality Assurance, and carrying out checks on the compliance of our products. A number of organizational measures were taken to establish a process of checks to be carried out by several individuals in the approval of powertrains.
Based on these and other measures, we intend to ensure within the scope of Quality Assurance that all legal requirements imposed on us as a manufacturer and on our products are met.
Observing regional requirements
Our customers’ wishes and desires in terms of new vehicle models vary in the individual regions of the world. Identifying these specific regional factors and prioritizing them is an important task for Quality Assurance, so that they can then be reflected in the development of new products and the production of established vehicle models. Factors such as the available fuel quality, road conditions, traffic density, country-specific usage patterns and, last but not least, local legislation play a key role in this process. We mainly use market studies and customer surveys to capture the region-specific customer requirements.
Product and supplier quality
In the reporting period, the large number of product start-ups made high demands on Quality Assurance. We nevertheless managed to maintain the high quality of the previous years. Our suppliers also made important contributions to this. We expect them to use sustainable practices, as well as to deliver the highest product quality and reliability of supply.
One of our central concerns is to establish innovative technologies that are installed in new vehicles in the respective markets without any complaints. We are therefore placing even greater emphasis than before on the topics of software quality and data security. Quality Assurance supports and analyzes new vehicle projects long before customers experience a new product. We consistently aim to make our products even better and even more reliable, while at the same time taking as many customer wishes as possible into consideration and factoring in regional requirements.
In addition, Quality Assurance defines high quality targets and standards for the Volkswagen Group, and monitors compliance with them. It also identifies the cause of any faults and manages the process for removing them. In 2015, we continued to standardize our fault removal process, so that we can respond even more quickly and effectively to any problems in the vehicle. As a result, we can increase customer satisfaction, and at the same time reduce warranty and ex gratia repair costs.
We also aim to improve the quality of our service offerings worldwide. As in the previous year, we therefore further optimized our warranty and ex gratia repair instruments in 2015. As the direct interface with our customers, authorized dealers also offered us additional opportunities: we are working on identifying any problems that may be revealed in the emotional moment of vehicle handover at an early stage, and on preventing such problems from occurring. One measure taken in this respect is the introduction of “dealer plant teams” – a proven concept that we repeated for the launch of the Volkswagen Touran: employees from different work areas inspect the quality of the vehicles delivered to the local dealer and feed back details of any problems to the manufacturing plant in question.
Group quality standards
Whether they are buying a passenger car, commercial vehicle or motorcycle, our customers expect perfect quality from all vehicles of the Volkswagen Group. So for more than 40 years now, auditors have been deployed around the world to carry out an assessment from the customer’s perspective of the vehicles ready for delivery. We continually revise the quality standards applied for these vehicle audits in line with changes in requirements. In 2015, based on the guiding principles of precision and perfection, Quality Assurance prepared a truck-specific audit in conjunction with the Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, Scania and MAN brands, and trained and certified the product auditors accordingly.
Our products stand out for their precision, perfect workmanship and high-quality appeal. Quality Assurance contributes to this with instruments such as master jigs and function cubes. This testing equipment in use at Volkswagen ensures that we meet the high quality requirements imposed on our vehicle construction processes. For vehicle interiors and exteriors, Quality Assurance assesses the overall appeal, panel gaps, looks and feel, functionality and assembly capability. Where necessary, we adjust components or make changes to their design. As the importance of appeal continues to grow in the truck segment, Quality Assurance ran a comprehensive training program in 2015, in cooperation with Scania. Employees were given training on how to correctly adjust and classify parts.