Group Quality Management
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 fill them with enthusiasm in all areas, and thus to 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. Group Quality Management 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.
In consultation with the brands, we developed the Group Quality Management strategy as part of our future program TOGETHER – Strategy 2025. Focal areas include digitalization, new technologies and business fields, as well as uniform processes, methods and standards at all brands.
Advancing digitalization is also a major challenge for the Volkswagen Group: an ever increasing number of digital products and services is being developed and brought to market. To continue to ensure our customary level of quality and safety amid this diversity, we must adapt our quality measures accordingly. For example, the increased functional diversity and complexity of the driver assistance systems, extending all the way to autonomous vehicles, means that the software is also growing in scope. We have therefore introduced the processes and structures of what are known as smart quality organizations in the Group and the brands, completing this in the reporting period. Among other things, smart quality organizations refine the methods we use to support the development of software for selected critical features, and with which we can ensure that quality requirements are met. At the same time, we are taking advantage of the progress in digital technology to further optimize our existing processes and structures. For example, we use virtual measurement technologies or big data analyses when vehicles on the market encounter quality problems.
The strategy of Group Quality Management developed in this context comprises the following four goals:
- We will impress 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 Quality Management in the major passenger car-producing brands.
- 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. After a continuous fall in the number of Volkswagen Group tow-ins in the German market since 2014, a slight overall increase was recorded again in the 2017 production year. Of the six brands featured, Audi, SEAT and Porsche saw their performance improve year-on-year. The Volkswagen Passenger Cars, ŠKODA and Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles brands recorded a slight upward trend. The brands’ ratios for the 2017 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.
We also use a strategic indicator to measure our success in the truck and bus area:
- 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. MAN recorded a slight increase in the number of claims at the beginning of the fiscal year due to a cross-sector problem that has now been resolved. Systematic quality management enabled both brands to keep their figures at a good level for the rest of the year.
Legal and regulatory compliance
The legal and regulatory compliance of our products is paramount in our work. We have further reinforced application of the principle of multiple-party verification – which involves mutual support and control between the divisions – and introduced additional important processes, including in software security. With effect from the reporting period, 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 placing even 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, which was revised in 2015: the requirements of this standard must be met to obtain the type approval needed to produce and sell 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 Group Quality Management.
With these and other measures, Group Quality Management is helping to ensure that we as a manufacturer meet the legal requirements, and that our products do so, too.
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 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 already realigned our vehicle audit back in 2017 and tailored it more closely to regional customer needs. 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 markets 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 the vehicles that are ready for delivery and to ensure that these vehicles comply with the benchmarks defined.