Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. (NML) SVP Sadao Sekiyama recently confirmed the findings of the 2003 Vehicle Evaluation System (VES) survey which, among others, bestowed the Nissan X-TRAIL assembled by Nissan Motor Philippines Inc. (NMPI) as having the "Best Assembly Quality in Asia."

Mr. Sekiyama, who is among the elite circle of NML President and CEO Carlos Ghosn, visited NMPI this week along with General Manager Futaka Murase to conduct a survey and audit of NMPI's vehicle assembly facilities.

It was during the closing of 2003 that the VES was conducted, with the aim of improving the overall assembly quality of Nissan vehicles in Asia, and citing countries which have a high assembly quality in the region.

NMPI's 2003 VES score also ranked it in the number two position among several other Nissan manufacturing facilities in the 22 countries that make up Nissan's global market.

"NMPI is very proud that Mr. Sekiyama confirmed the findings of the 2003 VES on the X-TRAIL and as well as on NMPI's manufacturing facilities, and at the same time undertook a very intensive inspection of our manufacturing facilities which is among the most modern in the Philippines," NMPI President and CEO Leman Lee said.

Sekiyama-san conducted an inspection of all of NMPI's manufacturing facilities and validates the company's compliance to NML's strict standards for efficiency, cleanliness, and on-time production. Known as one of the most modern car manufacturing facilities in Asia and the Philippines as well, NMPI's facilities can manufacture up to 3,000 vehicles per month.

"Other testing or qualifying systems for evaluating vehicle quality is commonly based on engineering specifications. The Nissan VES, however, adds a marketing dimension to evaluation. This means better sales satisfaction and a real-world evaluation of automobile products," explained Aster Teoxon, assistant manager for quality assurance at NMPI.

The VES is a rigid, random vehicle sampling, multi-point assembly quality and vehicle check survey conducted by NML's Tokyo headquarters on an annual basis. It judges total vehicle quality from a customer's viewpoint.

An overall inspection and assessment of "customer-significant" items in a vehicle under scrutiny is done using a comprehensive evaluation manual. Under evaluation are key points. For example, aspects of a vehicle's exterior such as paint finish, luster and color matching are closely examined.

Likewise, interior features such as fitting, trim and neatness are also closely monitored. Any item that is below the strict set of standards prescribed by NML's Japan headquarters is immediately considered a "failure."

"The X-TRAIL assembled by NMPI ranked very high in many aspects of the VES, and this alone easily makes it a standout among SUVs offered in the Philippines," Mr. Lee said.