Renault has been working hard to improve the quality of its cars following criticism by customers and industry experts. It has used knowledge gained from alliance partner Nissan and by benchmarking rival Toyota to get better. Renault executive Philippe Prevel explained the quality control strategy for the group’s diverse brands -- including Dacia and Lada. Prevel, who was replaced as Renault quality chief by Christian Vandenhende on Jan. 1 and will move to a new role at the company, spoke with Automotive News Europe Correspondent Bruce Gain shortly before being reassigned.
Where does Renault’s quality rank today against other global automakers?
If you gauge quality using traditional metrics, we are quite good. But measured in overall customer satisfaction, we are just average in many cases. This involves such things as car colors, seat configurations and issues that are not real failures but they annoy the customer. Each market has customer expectations that are slightly different. For example, car color tastes in Europe are very different than those of Indian customers, who want very light colors and even creamy whites in the interior. If you just offer black upholstery inside the car, you’re getting it wrong.
How did you address criticism over Renault’s quality?
We had some weak points around the beginning of 2002. We started by analyzing each of the failures and defects. This was a huge project that took place for several years.