ATSUGI, Japan -- Stung by slumping U.S. quality scores, Nissan Motor Co. will overhaul quality control in a bid to catch Japanese and Korean rivals boasting better customer satisfaction.
The new strategy focuses on two areas where Nissan acknowledges it trails the competition: perceived quality and soft quality, or the customer perception of quality through touch and feel, fit and finish and intuitive controls.
Kazumasa Katoh, senior vice president in charge of global quality, says Nissan will unveil the plan in November. But in a preview to Automotive News, Katoh said the initiative was spurred by Nissan's lackluster performance in recent surveys by J.D. Power and Associates.
In Power's 2011 Initial Quality Study released in June, Nissan slid to No. 24, down from 12 last year and 19 in 2008. In Power's Vehicle Dependability Study, Nissan was No. 25, unchanged from last year but down from No. 18 in 2008. In both, Nissan remained below the industry average, with lower rankings than in 2008 because rivals upped their games.
"On Nissan's side, we were surprised" by the survey results, Katoh said in an interview last week. "On the defects side, we have improvement. But on the dissatisfaction we have deterioration."