Audi has attacked quality problems with evangelical passion, reversing a less-than-stellar reputation in the last three years.
Audi jumped three spots to No. 8 in the J.D. Power and Associates 2005 Initial Quality Study released last week. The latest improvement clears another hurdle for the German brand, which set out to improve its quality in 2002 when it languished below the industry average.
Audi's effort began by accepting the idea that listening to the U.S. customers pays off.
The mind-set at Audi dramatically contrasts with that at Mercedes-Benz. Eckhard Cordes, head of the Mercedes car group, said recently that the brand is rethinking whether it wants to cater to U.S. tastes to the degree required to be No. 1 in the Power study.
Audi now looks at U.S. quality monthly at the board level. It often makes changes to all its vehicles as a result.
"We've learned because of the greater transparency in the U.S. and the higher level of consumerism that we can get more information from this market, apply that worldwide and raise the whole brand up," says Marc Trahan, product management and quality director.