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 quality.
Digitalization was once again the beating heart of our work in the reporting year: we are sharpening our focus on software-based system development, which is a critical factor for success in respect of customer satisfaction. Consistent application of the “Automotive SPICE” process assessment model that we use to improve our processes is particularly important in our activities. It is a key building block for meeting the requirements of our customers, as well as those of the regulatory and legislative bodies.
Volkswagen has been implementing cybersecurity measures in the Group for some time now. For example, we have an independent cybersecurity network in place across all regions and Group brands and monitor potential cyber risks. This enables us to act fast when potential threats arise. The UNECE (United Nations Economic Commission for Europe) has provided for corresponding certification and homologation in the future to ensure that companies can guarantee that these aspects are dealt with properly so as to protect the users of our vehicles from potential attacks. Our Group pursues the goal of implementing standards in the areas of both accident prevention and security. We are refining the established processes within the framework of an Automotive Cyber Security Management System in keeping with the requirements of the UNECE regulation. In this context, Volkswagen is implementing comprehensive measures across departments in the Group. One of these is a Group-wide communications campaign launched for the Volkswagen Passenger Cars brand to underline the importance of this issue.
Strategy of Group Quality
We review our functional area strategy periodically and coordinate it with the brands. We align our activities with our goal expressed in the motto: “We embody outstanding quality and ensure reliable mobility for our customers worldwide.” 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 ex gratia repair costs.
The strategy of Group Quality developed in this context comprises the following four goals:
- We excite our customers with our outstanding quality by understanding what exactly they perceive as quality and implementing this in our products.
- We contribute to competitive products with optimal quality costs by ensuring robust processes, thereby reducing the expense involved in testing each vehicle.
- We make our contribution to sustainability, security and integrity by embodying and designing high standards of quality in products and processes.
- We are becoming an excellent employer by promoting the personal development of every single employee even more intensively.
To achieve our goals, we have defined a variety of work packages. 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 at the top level of consideration for the major passenger car-producing brands.
- Warranty and ex gratia repair payments per vehicle after 12 months in service. This indicator shows all warranty and ex gratia repair payments for the vehicles produced worldwide in each production year, expressed in euros per vehicle. All vehicles from the Volkswagen Passenger Cars, Audi, Porsche, ŠKODA, SEAT and Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles brands are included in this figure. Extraordinary items resulting from initiatives such as recalls or in connection with the diesel issue are not taken into account. While the figures for the 2017 and 2018 production years remained at a constant level, it was possible to reduce the allowances for vehicles manufactured in 2019 which are within the targeted corridor. Particularly noteworthy is the Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles brand, the figures for which improved by more than 10% year-on-year in the 2019 production year.
In 2020, the Board of Management decided to replace the “Tow-in 12 MIS” strategic indicator with this new indicator, as evaluation of global warranty and ex gratia repair payments is a more comprehensive instrument for the economic management of customer perceptions of product quality.
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 business units. Among other things, 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 that the conformity checks on our products are carried out and assessed with the participation of all business units involved. This applies particularly to checks related to emissions and fuel consumption.
We are also dedicating increased attention to our quality management system, reinforcing the interdisciplinary, process-driven approach throughout the Group. The quality management system in the Volkswagen Group is based on the ISO 9001 standard. 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 sites 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.
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.
In order to be able to ensure that the perceived quality of our vehicles is at a level commensurate with that of our competitors, we take the needs of our regional customers into account in our vehicle audits. Every brand works together with the individual regions to decide how its product is to be positioned there. In this way, we strengthen the brands’ responsibility. So that the vehicle 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, the vehicles that are ready for delivery and to ensure that these vehicles comply with the benchmarks defined.