• May 13, 2010
Detroit automakers have a long history of less-than-rosy relations with their supply bases, while Toyota and Honda worked to keep their suppliers happy. But Detroit automakers have been promising to improve supplier relationships, and
a study published by The Detroit News shows that the Motor City is finally beginning to deliver. Scoring for the Planning Perspectives study is based on 650 purchasing personnel from 510 Tier 1 suppliers that rated six automakers.

Honda and Toyota are still at the top of the supplier study, and by a wide margin. But Ford has risen to number three in the study, passing Nissan for the first time in a number of years. In fact, the study shows that since 2007, Toyota and Honda's overall supplier satisfaction scores have dropped by 21 and 11 percent, respectively. During the same time frame, General Motors and Ford have improved by 63 and 31 percent, respectively.

There are a lot of factors that figure into supplier satisfaction, including pricing pressure and whether an OEM is able to meet or exceed its quoted production figures. A good supplier relationship is crucial because it can lead to lower prices, higher quality and increased investment in technology.

[Source: The Detroit News | Image: Bill Pugliano/Getty Images]


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  • 24 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      Detroit's poor relationship with their suppliers is one of the biggest little problems that doomed GM into bankruptcy, and Ford into near bankruptcy.

      Sooooo much of a modern car's features and parts are made by outside suppliers that a car maker needs to have good relationships with them. You would think that it would be a no-brainer for GM and Ford to butter-up their suppliers. Nope. They always used them as their whipping-boy to squeeze every last penny off their prices.

      That turned out to be penny-wise, pound-foolish.

      When a supplier comes up with a new technology or improved part quality, why would they run off to GM or Ford and sell it to them when Honda or Toyota would probably be willing to pay more for that technology and not nickle and dime them to death. This means that Detroit was always behind the times when it came to new tech, new features and better quality parts.

      Ford and GM making gains in a supplier survey is much bigger news than most people will ever realize.
        • 4 Years Ago
        No one is saying that car companies do not use parts suppliers for almost all aspects of new car manufacturing, but your blind bias toward Detroit (especially GM) is showing again.

        There have been many articles and stories that go back quite a few years that back up my post that Detroit has historically beaten their suppliers to death and thus these same suppliers are never quick to offer up their best new goods to them.

        Hell, this very AB story right here proves that you are dead wrong on this. Honda and Toyota are STILL way ahead of Detroit in the supplier relations. Not having good relations with the very people that supply you with the parts you need to build your cars is ludicrous and a recipe for failure.

        Here's a suggestion - leave the fanboyism at home - it helps NO ONE to blindly support a company.
        • 4 Years Ago
        You are completely misinformed. The system of subcontracting of subassemblies to suppliers so you can nickle and dime them to death was invented by the Japanese. It was a huge part of the "Japan, Inc." lessons of the 80s and adopted with gusto by American companies since.

        Domestic makers use to make their own subassemblies in house. GM had AC/Delco making dashboard clusters, etc.

        All that is now contracted out, the entire center stack (radio, NAV, A/C buttons and all) in my CTS is made by Alpine for example.

        The plan as created by Japanese companies is to contract out subassemblies and then each year you tell the supplier to cut the price or lose the contract. It's far more efficient than doing it in-house, because the in-house people know they won't lose their jobs the next year if they don't cut their prices.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Hazdaz:
        My point wasn't about who has good supplier relations. My point was that you state the US companies created the idea of outsourcing and then nickle and diming your suppliers. You couldn't be more wrong.

        go read this book:
        http://www.amazon.com/Keiretsu-Inside-Hidden-Japanese-Conglomerates/dp/007042859X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1273766246&sr=8-1-spell

        GM and Ford had terrible relationships with their suppliers largely because GM and Ford spun out large portions of their companies (Visteon and Delphi) and purposely gave them huge UAW contract overhangs and the some of the most unviable portions of the company. They did create their own messes.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I do definitely give a lot of credit to Ford, especially for the american built ones. They actually now don't look like they "should" have went with that design 5 or 10 years ago, or in other words "playing catch up with others". The current lineup on their cars actually look attractive and very modern to almost futuristic inside and out.

      Now as for GM, they still have a whole lot of work to do. Frankly the only cars I like are the ones designed by Opel or Daewoo. All of the american designed cars just look 5-7 years dated as soon as the are released. That's my nice way of saying that the american GM designs totally suck donkey crank and have for many years.

      Keep up the great work Ford and for the love of god pls do not stray away from your path of success.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Maybe it has something to do with the fact that Autoblog is a shill for Detroit and wants to perpetuate the "closed Japanese market" myth.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Or it could be because the 2 countries are entirely different beasts. China has an immature domestic auto industry. They are still below par compared to their foreign competitors but this is quickly changing. Japan has a high quality domestic auto industry that knows how to make cars for even foreign markets really well. Not only that, but many Chinese are first time buyers so they don't know what to expect and accept large cars. Once they realize the insane traffic problems and wasted gas, they're going to start buying smaller cars like the Japanese. When that happens, many American cars are going to start losing marketshare again. Last, people will always prefer their "domestic" automakers. For example, GM, Ford and Chrysler made crappy cars for a few decades and are (at least 2 of them) still the biggest automakers in the US. It's amazing how much marketshare they still have. The Japanese market is probably less closed than the US one since they don't have any import tariffs on vehicles unlike the US.
        • 4 Years Ago
        The US is exporting tons of fresh metal to China. Business is booming, yet there is almost no export into Japan.

        So, what, they just don't like Yen?
      • 4 Years Ago
      Brian seems to love TTAC.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Strange enough, I'm tempted to look at a Buick LaCrosse and a Taurus SHO. For the first time since 1973.

      Ahh, NOT.

      The dealer experience with American cars is so disappointing.
        • 4 Years Ago
        "The dealer experience with American cars is so disappointing."

        The worst dealer experiences I have ever had were in Audi and Honda dealers. So what does that prove? Every dealer is an independent franchise and some are better than others. BTW, I don't blame Audi or Honda.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Hey Tiger, both of those are great choices. You outta try them out anyway. There's more to a car than the dealership experience.
        • 4 Years Ago
        As for "dealer experiences"

        I'd have to say I never had much service on my past Mustangs and my Expedition, they were pretty solid vehicles. The Honda was the worst because it kept going back and they service department had these big fake smiles on like "Oh,,, he he he , that's a first for us, he he he" and I felt like they Bull Shat me with every little thing. It's the "sell" in the service department that keeps people happy! It's so friggin phony!

        Finally my Charger RT (current ride) is probably the worse built car I've ever owned but the dealership is honest when they say "yeah the suspension is the worst in these cars" and they fix it. At least I'm not being smoozed!

        Don't lie to me with big crest white strip smiles! Tell me the truth with a missing tooth! Damn it....


        • 4 Years Ago
        ummmm... this has nothing to do with dealer experience and everything to do with suppliers.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Experience? What you want marble floors and foot massages? Only to follow with this...

        "Blah, this is why prices keep going up! I'm paying for marble floors and foot massages at a stinkin' dealership".
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