is not at all happy with recent quality scores in the United States market, and the automaker has vowed to revamp its quality control to catch the competition. Nissan is focusing its efforts on two key areas: perceived quality and “soft quality,” which is the quality portrayed through touch, feel, fit, finish and controls.
Like Ford, who scored poorly in recent J.D. Power quality studies
due to the complexity of its SYNC and MyFord Touch system interfaces, Nissan is losing points due to complex control systems. Its short-term solution is to print a two-page quick reference guide as a supplement to all 2012 U.S. vehicle user manuals; at delivery, customers will be required to sign a document certifying that they’ve read the insert.
If there’s good news for Nissan, it’s that the automaker has achieved a goal set in it’s previous operations plan of reducing breakdowns and physical defects. That may prove to be less challenging than improving perceived and soft quality, since a recent J.D. Power study showed that most reported “problems” are merely design or customer familiarity issues
As Automotive News
(subscription required) explains, Nissan wants a top three finish in quality scores among nonpremium brands by 2016; for Infiniti, a top three finish among all brands is expected within the same time frame.
As if to assure customers, Nissan’s senior vice president in charge of global quality, Kazumasa Katoh, said, “We are accumulating the lessons learned, so what we experienced with defects and dissatisfaction, we are applying to new model development.”
Nissan need only look to rival Toyota
as an example of what happens when quality isn’t monitored. After a disastrous and recall-filled 2010
, Toyota is still making every attempt to restore customer confidence in its products.