With the Japanese giant finishing 25th in the dependability survey for a second year in a row (below industry average but still ahead of other big name brands such as Mitsubishi and Volkswagen), Kazumasa Katoh, senior Nissan vice president in charge of global quality, is set to unveil the company’s latest quality-focused business plan in November.
According to a recent interview with Automotive News, Katoh said the initiative was partially fuelled by Nissan’s worse than expected performance in the J.D. Power survey.
In 2010 Nissan came 12th in the quality survey (now 24th) and managed an above average place of 18th for dependability in 2008 (now 25th).
The company is expected to focus on two areas for improvement: perceived quality and soft quality. The first relates to customer perception of quality more than anything else, which in this case is most likely in regards to touch and feel. The second is attention to fit and finish and improved internal controls (air conditioning, audio/visual).
It’s fair to point out that some of these so called quality issues are not actually issues so to speak, they are likely to be annoying implementation of features. For example, customers in the U.S. have complained that Nissan’s climate control system is too complicated, requiring far too many buttons to get things started.
Additional complaints in regards to its satellite navigation and entertainment systems is also playing against Nissan as the company believes more of its customers are likely to pick high-tech options than those buying competitor cars.
For example, a Nissan Maxima with a high-end satellite navigation system may get more complaints when compared to a Toyota Camry with no sat-nav simply because of user frustration at understanding how the system works. The additional complaints per car may, in this example, have little to do with the overall quality of the car itself.
The company plans to be in the top three non-premium brands (in North America) for dependability and quality by 2016.