All manufacturing operations that require ISO 9000 certification—a set of international standards on quality management and quality assurance—are certified.
Globally, we have transitioned to the new ISO 9001:2015 standard, which is aligned with the most recent trends. 54 operations have completed the transition and certification in 2020. We have nine component plants certified to the IATF 16949 standards. We also maintain a Global Manufacturing System (GMS) that informs all aspects of our business and is even more rigorous than external standards.
A focus of our quality assurance programs is "initial quality," which refers to vehicle issues that customers may experience in the first months of ownership. In recent years, user-friendly infotainment systems, seat comfort, placement of knobs and handles and other features have replaced component failures as top initial quality issues. We measure our performance in this area through a key metric: 12 Months in Service Incidents Per Thousand Vehicles.
It’s also important to understand that quality today goes beyond reliability to encompass often intangible experiences. That's why we are taking more scientific approaches to translate customer input and feedback into technical requirements that define the overall driving experience. Consider, for example, the sound of an engine start or transmission shift, the feel of buttons when pushed or the sound doors make when closing. Such quality attributes often can be difficult for customers to describe and quantify. New advanced tools and approaches, such as Human Vehicle Integration, help to translate customers’ requirements into technical specifications and, ultimately, vehicle designs.
The implementation of updated tools and programs is helping GM employees around the world react better and faster to the needs of our customers. For example, our Global Product Development organization is required to achieve Black Belt Design for Six Sigma status within a specified time after joining the organization. We also have migrated all of our plants around the world to the highest quality levels with the goal of shipping the best possible products. Operational Excellence has been implemented across the enterprise as a proven, systemwide and data-driven approach to confronting business issues and identifying lasting solutions.
The goal of these and other programs is to take action as early as possible in the vehicle development and manufacturing process to promote excellence at product launch. This “quality across the enterprise” approach drives behaviors and actions throughout the company to result in brands, products and services that meet or exceed the expectations of our customers.
Leading in Vehicle Quality and Satisfaction
GM was the highest-ranked automaker of 15 companies surveyed in the J.D. Power 2020 Initial Quality Study (IQS). The IQS measures components that fail and features that are difficult to use, hard to understand or don’t work the way owners want. This year’s study examined problems experienced by owners of new 2020 model-year vehicles during the first 90 days of ownership. Initial quality is determined by the number of problems experienced per 100 vehicles, with a lower score reflecting higher quality.
The 2020 Chevrolet Sonic bested every vehicle reviewed in the automotive industry for initial quality. The Yantai Dongyue North plant, part of our SAIC-GM joint venture, won the J.D. Power Platinum Award for plant quality, having the fewest defects or malfunctions of any automotive manufacturing facility in the world. Overall, GM vehicles won six of 26 vehicle segment IQS awards, including:
- 2020 Cadillac CT5—Midsize Premium Car
- 2020 Cadillac CT6—Upper Midsize Premium Car
- 2020 Cadillac Escalade—Large Premium SUV
- 2020 Cadillac XT4—Compact Premium SUV
- 2020 Chevrolet Malibu—Midsize Car
- 2020 Chevrolet Sonic—Small Car
An additional eight vehicles ranked in the top three of their respective segments. Cadillac earned the most segment awards among premium brands.
We’re also proud of our performance in J.D. Power’s 2020 U.S. Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) study, which examines customer satisfaction with their new vehicles. GM’s overall score of 844 index points moved the company to rank seventh in the industry, improving from 10th in the previous year. GM outperformed the industry average by two index points and earned three APEAL segment awards:
- Chevrolet Blazer—Midsize SUV (for the second consecutive year)
- GMC Sierra HD—Large Heavy-Duty Pickup
- Cadillac CT6—Upper Midsize Premium Car
Both the APEAL and the IQS studies were significantly redesigned in 2020, and measure owners’ emotional attachments and levels of excitement with their new vehicles across 37 attributes.