Recently released results from Nissan the Japanese automotive manufacturer illustrate how good product design leads to improved financial returns.
Nissan’s Net Profit was up a whopping 7% at 341.43 billion Yen and Turnover was also up 7.2% at 341.43 billion Yen.
This was largely based on sales of the distinctive Quashqai SUV in Europe.
Quashqai’s design team was headed up by Stephane Schwartz who conceived the distinctive ‘bone line’ styling whilst thinking about Lean & Athletic images at his home in London. Nissan’s European design studio was put to work on the Quashqai at its base in Paddington London and the results are reflected in Nissan’s financial performance despite a strong Yen.
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The news today that Toyota plans on recalling several hundred Prius due to brake problems follows hot on the heels of rumours last week that 19 people had died due to faulty accellerator pedals on Toyota vehicles in the U.S.A alone.
What is going on ? Toyota has always had a terrific and well deserved reputation for product quality and anyone involved in product design knows that quality has to be built in at the design stage where the product should be rigorously tested and key parameter should exceed a certain capability. This approach guarantees a high degree of reliability and integrity with product failures measured in a handful per million.
The enormity of the problems at Toyota indicate a much, much higher level of failure which is incompatible with a quality product.
Toyota are already discovering the high price of possible shoddy design procedures with sales down around 16% last month.
Sadly their reputation may never recover.
Quality is built in at the design stage.
Recent news that GM has failed to find a buyer for Saab leading to the imminent demise of this once great automotive manufacturer will sadden those of us who once owned one of these iconic vehicles.
The Swedish manufacturer has a tremendous tradition of innovation. They were the leaders in Turbo development which was incorporated into a range of models in the 1960′s.
The Duck-Billed shape of the 9-3 and earlier 900 series made their looks distinctive and original. The Saab cockpit reflected the brand’s Aero heritage with its wrap around style and distinctive dash. Saab cars had headlight wipers long before anyone else and everyone who has driven a 9-3 or a 900 came to love the ignition being next to the handbrake (rather than next to the steering wheel) meaning the car had to be left in reverse gear before the keys could be removed – proving an excellent mechanical theft deterrent.
Let’s hope someone comes in at the last moment to rescue this iconic and innovative automotive brand.