With more and more of our customers requesting a complete factory-to-dealer solution, it’s vital for us to be able to offer a complete range of products, including high-quality surrounding services such as accessory installation.
As consumers seek new ways of differentiating themselves, automotive manufacturers are seeing value in offering more vehicle customisation services. Accessorisation has become a key element of vehicle processing for total service providers like Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics (WWL). Venture looks into the work WWL is doing at its Vehicle Processing Centres (VPCs) on behalf of Nissan North America, for whom it installed two million accessories last year alone. Venture looks into the work WWL is doing at its Vehicle Processing Centres (VPCs) on behalf of Nissan North America, for whom it installed two million accessories last year alone.
“With more and more of our customers requesting a complete factory-to-dealer solution, it’s vital for us to be able to offer a complete range of products, including high-quality surrounding services such as accessory installation,” explains Greg Harrison, who is responsible for Nissan plant-based VPC operations within WWL Quality & Engineering.
Accessory installation covers all the additional content a car might require, from items, such as floor mats, to complex electronic devices and mechanical installations. When Nissan’s vehicles leave the manufacturing sites in Canton, Mississippi, and Smyrna, Tennessee, they are transferred directly to the adjacent VPCs, where WWL assumes responsibility for processing and preparing the cars for onward distribution.
WWL’s employees work in an integrated manner with Nissan’s engineers to ensure that all the work is carried out according to the manufacturer’s specifications.
According to Kevin Thompson, Senior Manager, Accessory Product Planning at Nissan North America, there are a number of reasons why some 60 to 80 percent of US automotive accessory sales these days come from port or VPC installation. He explains that a vehicle with pre-installed accessories is not only easier to finance but also has a higher residual value, as the cost of the accessories is included in the sticker price. However, for Nissan, the principal advantage has been quality.
“Nissan places a high degree of focus on quality,” Thompson says. “Accessories installed by WWL support this priority since WWL installers work directly with Nissan’s key Quality Teams.”
Nissan’s accessory installations were initially outsourced to Distribution Auto Services (DAS), a subsidiary of Nissan North America. When WWL acquired DAS in 2005, it took advantage of its knowledge of operating VPCs and Technical Service Centres around the world, in order to offer Nissan a comprehensive range of services.
“Our extensive experience enables us to offer a competitive, first-rate service, which includes liaison engineering and industrial engineering, as well as installation support,” says Harrison. “Moreover, to the best of my knowledge, we’re the only supplier providing a comprehensive solution that covers every single step from the factory to the dealer. Taking responsibility for a car as soon as it leaves the factory and not letting it out of our sight until it’s safely with the dealer means that we can ensure the quality of its handling every step of the way.”
James Adams, Accessory Product Planning Manager at Nissan, concurs:
“With WWL, we have one supplier processing every vehicle we sell. As they don’t use subcontractors to transport the vehicles from the port to the processing centre, there’s greater transparency and ease of accountability in the process. I see clear benefits to having one point of contact for all your quality discussions,” he says.
WWL (and previously DAS) has been installing accessories for Nissan since 1996. Accessory installation covers all dealer-ordered, value-added content, from easier-to-install accessories to complex electrical options such as Bluetooth hands-free sets, illuminated kick plates, headrest DVDs and so on. The accessories installed by WWL on Nissan and Infiniti vehicles appear on the factory-pricing label and are covered by the manufacturer warranty. In 2011, WWL’s VPCs in Region Americas installed a record two million accessories on behalf of Nissan North America.