Philippe Pelletier

PSA Peugeot Citroën’s quality director says seven years ago the company was average for quality but independent surveys now reveal it is very good

The task of ensuring that vehicles are of suitable quality is far from simple. Much of the difficulty stems from the fact that the term ‘quality’ is a nebulous one, meaning different things depending on the circumstances or the person asked.

As quality director for the entire PSA Peugeot Citroën group, it is Philippe Pelletier’s unenviable role to make sure that all bases are covered when it comes to developing quality Peugeot and Citroën vehicles.

“I report directly to chairman Carlos Tavares and my role is to measure quality in the group’s products and services everywhere, to set the objectives and represent the quality authority,” he explains. In practice, this means that he has the power to stop production on a project if he has reason to believe the vehicles are not up to the standard expected.

He says his authority comes from reporting directly to the chairman but, while staff believe he meets Tavares every day, the truth is that it is closer to two or three times a month.

Having joined Citroën in 1978 working on production of engines at the Trémery plant in north-east France, Pelletier has seen how PSA’s definition of such a subjective term as quality has changed over the years.

When he first joined PSA, quality referred to the vehicle’s reliability, but today, under his oversight, the definition has broadened to also include driving pleasure, vehicle performance and service at – and after – sale.

Pelletier says: “In my experience you don’t have to be perfect everywhere but you do have to be good in these four areas. If you’re bad in reliability, then there is no point even bothering with the other three but only being good at reliability is not enough either.

“A customer, talking about a competitor, told me that what was good about them was that when they had a problem they will deal with it, so immediately I thought ‘Oh, so they do have problems, even though they present an image of top quality’.”

A mechanical engineer by profession, Pelletier has held senior positions responsible for engines, transmissions, suspensions and chassis development within the PSA group.

tags: March 2016 Citroën Peugeot