inside
The employee magazine
of the Volkswagen brand

Company

Quality Is All That Matters

During the Quality Assurance brand acceptance tour, Group CEO Herbert Diess, Brand COO Ralf Brandstätter and other top managers are testing more than 
a dozen Volkswagen models between Wolfsburg and Magdeburg.


Brand acceptance test schedule
  7:30 am     Briefing
  7:45 am     Static functional evaluation
  8:45 am     Brand acceptance test drive, Part 1
11:45 am     Dealership visit in Magdeburg
12:15 pm     Brand acceptance test drive, Part 2
  3:45 pm     Status assessment and debriefing

 

Guido Koch (right), Head of Overall Vehicle Quality Assurance, informs participants about the models and courses and divides them into teams in the morning.

Acceptance tour around Wolfsburg, meeting place: Hall 105, not far from Research and Development at the Wolfsburg plant. Hardly any of the brand’s top managers are missing this opportunity. The brand acceptance tour by Quality Assurance is a fixed date in the calendar – four times per year. Group CEO Herbert Diess and Ralf Brandstätter, who has been Chief Operating Officer (COO) for Procurement as well as head of the Volkswagen brand business for several weeks, will also be there. In addition, the managers responsible for development, production, electrics, and electronics are also joining the ranks, as well as some series managers and plant managers from the sites whose models are being tested. Today, a total of two dozen test drivers are testing 14 models over a distance of 220 kilometers.

At a switch station, Group CEO Herbert Diess climbs out of a Passat variant¹,
which will roll off the production line next year after a product upgrade in Emden.

CEO Diess first climbs into 
the T-Cross, which is only a few months away from series production. He’s a sporty driver. Engine check. The turbo gas engine hums along, sounding robust. Too robust. There’s still some work to be done on the acoustics. “But that’s completely normal for where our new SUV from Pamplona is in the production process,” says Diess, adding for emphasis, “I’ve driven the T-Cross a lot in development. During the acceptance test drives, it’s especially important to me to get a feeling for a car and to intervene early if something is not going in the right direction.”

Down to the smallest detail – Brand COO and Purchasing Manager 
Ralf Brandstätter and Production Director Andreas Tostmann (front) check 
the door labeling on 
the Golf GTI TCR5.

The test drivers, who are divided into two teams, put the new models like the T-Cross and the Passat, which is undergoing a major upgrade, through their paces. In a few weeks, they’ll go into series production. This is because the Q acceptance run takes place at an important stage in the product development process (PDP): the transition from pre-production to series production. In addition, once a year the quality testers turn their attention to the cars that are already in series production and sold to customers: for example the Tiguan, the Polo, the Golf sports van “Join”2, the e-Golf3, the Touran and the Arteon R-Line4. Now that these models have come off the production line, do they meet the high quality standards that apply to the Volkswagen brand?

The final round of the brand acceptance test drive: at the final meeting in Hall 105, all results are presented and task packages are put together.

Stretched out before the 14 models and the test teams lie 220 kilometers of federal and district roads between Wolfsburg and Magdeburg with a dozen switch stations. The principle behind the test is that everyone gets behind the wheel once and has about 20 minutes to get an impression of the car and to record their judgment. That is what the employees under Guido Koch (49), Head of Overall Vehicle Quality Assurance, do. He’s been responsible for brand acceptance tours since 2013, and brings a lot of experience with him.
 

“With the brand acceptance test, we have a good early warning system to achieve our brand’s high quality standard.”

Hans-Joachim Rothenpieler, Head of Group Quality Management,
Chairman of Technical Development 
at Audi starting in November

Discussions at a switch station: the test drivers gather at the rear and discuss the best solution 
for lining the trunk.

The strength of the two test teams and the results lies in their diversity. After all, everyone drives differently and places importance on different details: one person will pay particular attention to how the materials are processed and how they feel, like in the cockpit around the glove compartment or in the center console. Others will direct their attention more toward the infotainment system or the engine.

Three “Wolfsburgers” at the brand acceptance test – the Tiguan “Join”¹, an e-Golf that rolled off the production line just six weeks before, and a sports van “Join,” built in early September.

Switch station number two is in Weddendorf, 20 kilometers east of Wolfsburg. Ralf Brandstätter shifts the seat of the T-Cross far back and adjusts the backrest. This is always his first step. The brand’s new COO is more than 6’2” and – like other basketball player-sized customers – wants to find a comfortable sitting position. Not a problem in the brand’s next SUV, even with another adult behind him. Brandstätter then gently runs his hand over the cockpit and control panel. He’s feeling out the quality of the surfaces, joints and buttons. “I place great importance on having contact with the products on their way from development into 
series production,” says Brandstätter.

Discussions in Hall 105 – among other things, the “static functional evaluation” concerned the
next generation of the modular infotainment system (MIB).

Head of Development Frank Welsch really listens to the car as he sits at the wheel. The sound of the engine, the road noise from the tires, the airflow at the side window or the A-pillar – he pays attention to all that and more. Welsch applies the foot brake vigorously and finds out how and when it gets a grip. Slowly, the Head of Development turns the switch for the temperature control and listens to the quiet clicking. Everything in order.

The team that’s getting the brand acceptance test off the ground (from left to right): Stefan Wartenberg, Timo Prilop, Nils Paschkowiak, Tobias Klettke, Rino Habelitz, Stefan Sprenger, Sven Frank, Phillip Jahns, Daniel Kunze and Guido Koch.

No detail escapes the experts’ attention on this acceptance test, which lasts a good eight hours. At the final meeting in the afternoon in Hall 105, everything will be on the table. The experts openly discuss which adjusting screws need to be tightened in the coming weeks. Task packages are put together and distributed to further improve the models that were tested today. The struggle for the highest quality–Volkswagen quality–goes forward into the next round .

Three Questions for Guido Koch

The Head of Overall Vehicle Quality Assurance explains what 
this acceptance test is all about.

What is the significance of 
the brand acceptance test?
The aim of the acceptance run is to evaluate the models from the customer’s point of view in the final phase before the start of series production so we can achieve a high level of customer satisfaction. Quality Assurance, or QA for short, is responsible for this process, which is preceded by a QA validation run. The models are deployed at our stations under different weather and road conditions, taking customer perspective into account. The errors that occur there are then corrected in close cooperation with Technical Development (TD) and the Quality Assurance departments at the plants. During the product development process (PDP), QA takes over responsibility from TD starting with the production trial series (PTS).

How do you prepare for 
the brand acceptance test?

We gather the findings from the validation run and from the pre-evaluations from our specialist groups into focus lists. This means that my employees in the individual QA Overall Vehicle specialist groups are already busy putting the models through their paces prior to the brand acceptance run. They have the highest level of competence and show exceptional commitment to their work. The job is also linked to assessments of the cars at our stations in the world’s core markets. These are all “car people” who are absolutely committed to good cars with superior quality.

What insights do you gain 
from the brand test?
In the acceptance tests, the managers from the plants and TD, as well as the Board of Management, are shown how ready the vehicles are for series production. Decisions are made as to whether quality improvement measures should still be included. Series starts are also confirmed or postponed here 
if necessary.