The assessment of automotive perceived quality

  • Ian Pogson

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    We are visual creatures. We find ourselves immersed within perceptually salient environments, and routinely encounter items that we may propose to possess features that can evoke an emotional response. One of the principal factors associated with this dimension of visual aesthetics is how we perceive and value the innate properties relating to the quality of the artifact. Most people would recognize Perceived Quality (PQ), but few may be able to articulate exactly what it means. It is a state that we assign to products and services that involve some or all of the senses; most notably sight and touch.

    The intended audience for this research is fellow Engineers, although the approach taken in the work is a multi-disciplinary one, whereby a psychological view is taken alongside pure engineering. As far as can be determined, this is a novel approach and has relevance to the manufacture and sale of any goods, not just automotive products and therefore has a real industrial application.

    This research also considered what has been postulated on the subject so far. This was assessed within the confines of the automotive industry, as it struggles with the seemingly polar opposites of cost-reduction and PQ. It is a frequently-held industry belief that PQ has to be included in a project budget and raises the cost of a product, an issue which will be discussed in the thesis.

    PQ is a continuous process across both product and service sectors. It never stops. An enterprise that does not measure, articulate or otherwise attend to PQ may lose custom. Such a commercial drive was incorporated into the research from the start and gives a real-world value to this thesis.

    PQ is hard to define and unsurprisingly difficult to measure yet is the intangible force behind why we make many of our decisions when it comes to making a significant purchase. There have been several attempts to measure PQ, but these mostly amount to ratings that purport to indicate different quantitative dimensions associated with the construct of PQ. In order to better understand such a complex subject in relation to Automotive PQ, this research primarily adopted a qualitative method of assessment.

    This thesis discussed product and manufactured quality and PQ scoring regimes based on simplistic number ranges and goes on to compare these current methods of assessment to a process that incorporated findings from three studies outlined in this thesis on firstly Engineers who create the PQ, then the OEM as custodians of PQ and finally the customer as consumer of PQ, at the same time inferring PQ. Analysis of the words used to describe PQ has been made from these surveys and themes developed. Two methodologies have been employed to analyse the assessment process.

    The first use of ISM (Interpretive Structural Modelling) to look for relationships between attributes and see which, if any, is pre-eminent.

    This is believed to be the first use of ISM to assess PQ attributes. These attributes are common to all three surveys but were focussed upon for the OEM exercise. The second methodology is the use of mental models to show how each of these three groups view PQ. What arose from the three experimental surveys was greater definition of PQ in its broadest sense, giving qualitative depth to such clarification and conceptualisation. The views of all parties along the PQ journey from creation to consumption has been canvassed and represented in simple word form and then in mental models.

    Such a representation of the PQ concept is a multi-disciplinary approach and is believed to be the first publicly available research on PQ, combining an Engineering and Psychological viewpoint. The thesis focused principally upon verbalised articulations of PQ cues, but acknowledges there are others.

    Date of AwardMay 2020
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • Coventry University
    SupervisorRebecca Grant (Supervisor) & Dobrila Petrovic (Supervisor)

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