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Land Rover pioneers dealer-report hotline

Land Rover is pioneering a scheme to create closer links between its dealers and the assembly plant to improve product quality.

Dealers can relay problems reported by owners via a rapid-reaction reporting structure so that it is quickly corrected in manufacturing.

Land Rover has appointed a number of mentors - factory engineers who adopt representative dealerships around the world, including 10 in the UK.

One is Lancaster Land Rover, Reading, Berkshire, whose dealer principal Richard Thompson said: “Typical was the case of a customer whose Range Rover alarm and indicators kept going off.

“We tested it three times, but couldn't get it to fail. It was a classic Catch-22.”

The problem was solved when Mr Thompson called in his mentor, Chris Worwood, a production manager on the Freelander line in Solihull.

“Chris got in a designer with a box of tricks,” said Mr Thompson. “It turned out to be a local data communications company transmitting on the same frequency. We would never have been able to determine that on our own.”

The dealer/plant link is part of a major drive to improve product quality initiated by Land Rover manufacturing director Marin Burella after Ford bought the company from BMW in July 2000. Land Rover did badly in surveys this year by JD Power and the Consumers' Association.

In the JD Power customer satisfaction report, all Land Rover models finished near the bottom, with consistently poor ratings for assembly faults and mechanical failures.

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