While the headline might seem shocking, given the circumstances of the 2009 global economic meltdown, it only makes sense. Ford's dealings with two of its biggest competitors were centered around mutual self-preservation in the form of trying to keep a beleaguered supplier base afloat, according to The Detroit News. According to the report, Ford, Toyota and Honda cooperated to buy from common suppliers in a bid to keep those parts-makers from going under, which would have threatened the automakers' viability. That revelation comes courtesy of a new book, American Icon: Alan Mulally and the Fight to Save Ford Motor Company by Bryce G. Hoffman.
The auto industry is far more complex than many people realize, especially in this modern era, with ever-more demanding regulations and brutal competition from all corners of the globe. Tier One suppliers, as the biggest parts companies are known, have assumed much of the engineering and product testing and development work for new vehicles, even including big chunks of assembly.

When times get tough, as they most certainly did in late 2008, suppliers are often the canary in the coal mine. At least 27 automotive suppliers filed for Chapter 11 in 2009, meaning that Ford had good reason for taking such precautions, referred to as "Project Quark" internally, according to the report.

Interestingly enough, General Motors and Chrysler, the pair that eventually sought bankruptcy, chose not to participate in the alliance, with GM allegedly expressing concerns over the legality of such a maneuver. The book says Ford's antitrust attorneys were careful to avoid setting foot on the wrong side of such laws, which prohibit collusion on pricing, among other restrictions on cooperative behavior by competitors.

There are quite a few other interesting anecdotes in Hoffman's book, including a heated argument between Mark Fields, Ford's President of the Americas (now said to be in line to succeed CEO Alan Mulally), and Don Leclair, the company's then chief financial officer. According to Automotive News, a passage in the book declares that Leclair suggested that Fields cut the advertising budget for Ford's Bold Moves campaign in 2006. This led to heated argument, that ended up with Fields making a move toward Leclair while spouting some choice four-letter words. The altercation was broken up by none other than Bill Ford Jr.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 35 Comments
      PhilKenSebben
      • 2 Years Ago
      Project Quark?? Hope Odo doesn't find out!
      donnieorama
      • 2 Years Ago
      Is anyone bothered that Mulally is going to be succeeded by Mark Fields? It sure concerns me.
      EverythingBagel
      • 2 Years Ago
      The people who see a problem with this are afflicted with a case of ideological automobile xenophobia. It shows good business sense from all the involved parties. What is the problem, the companies that you exalt as 'all-American' (which are far from, really), did some teamwork with the Asians? Oh no, what an unspeakable act!
        Julius
        • 2 Years Ago
        @EverythingBagel
        I'd also think that those people who are upset with this are people who claim we should buy Fords because they didn't take a bailout... this highlights the concept that the bailout helped Ford, too.
          amerifight
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Julius
          you are wrong. Using free market solutions to keep the supply base strong is totally different than avoiding bankruptcy by going into government debt.
      billfrombuckhead
      • 2 Years Ago
      Another reason to not buy a Ford. Month by month Chrysler is gaining on Ford, when the Dart and the Pentastar Ram come out, Ford will start going backwards. I predicted some time back that the Chrysler 300 would soon outsell the entire Lincoln lineup, well check the latest sales numbers.
      • 2 Years Ago
      [blocked]
        jinushaun
        • 2 Years Ago
        Exactly. Savvy observers in 2008 recognised that if the Big Three failed, Toyota and Honda would also suffer greatly because of the collapse of the supply industry. It was in Toyonda's benefit that the Big Three not fail.
          ToucanSam
          • 2 Years Ago
          @jinushaun
          That was the reason Ford stood side by side with GM and Chrysler when they testified in front of Congress, even though Ford wasn't directly asking for bailout money. At the time they already borrowed through the nose even getting a loan with the Ford name and logo as collateral.
        Fat Kid
        • 2 Years Ago
        if you are talking about war, AVIC's J-20 jet kills everything, I mean EVERYTHING in America's aircraft inventory
          Big Rocket
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Fat Kid
          @Fat Kid: The only thing the J-20 kills is the respect for intellectual property, trade secrets, and proprietary technology pioneered by other countries. And, as long as we are being off-topic and not talking about the car industry, then perhaps you won't mind if I mention the human rights abuses of the People's Republic of China, the brutal crackdown of Falun Gong, the Tianamen Square massacre, corrupt government officials turning a blind eye while companies produce poisonous food products, industrial waste in rivers, etc, etc, etc. Nobody is forcing you to stay in Canada, please feel free to move back to China any time you wish.
          guyverfanboy
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Fat Kid
          That has absolutely NOTHING to with cars dumbass.
          mchlrus1
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Fat Kid
          Hey, we came out with the B-2 bomber in the 80's I can only imagine the where we are at. I am actually interested in the specs/stats of the J-20, can you write a few, that would rival our technology. Does it have vertical liftoff?
      techie69
      • 2 Years Ago
      Thank you Toyota and Honda, you guys make great cars and support the great businesse!
      ToucanSam
      • 2 Years Ago
      Did Ford get in bed again with Toyota back in August? GM partnered with Toyota way back when to sell the Cavalier in Japan. GM bought Honda engines for use in Saturns. Isuzu mated Honda engines to GM transmissions to make the clusterfffff Rodeo 3.2L (it runs fine, just don't be the one trying to find parts or work on it when it needs service. It's a PITA trying to find spark plugs for it, let alone changing the plugs, whose the genius behind engineering that plug boot?). These types of alliances are happening all the time. What makes it illegal is price collusion, and there has to be proof that there was collusion. Airlines all indirectly fix pricing on tickets and baggage fees, but because there isn't direct communication between companies it is perfectly legal. GM probably said they were concerned over the legality of the maneuver because they couldn't be part of the party as they were stuck dealing with their prepackaged bankruptcy.
      Fat Kid
      • 2 Years Ago
      an American icon doesn't mean it's an American company. only national companies such as AVIC are national, public companies such as Ford are owned by just about everyone
        Fat Kid
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Fat Kid
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/China_Aviation_Industry_Corporation
      techie69
      • 2 Years Ago
      Check it out fact finders- http://www.forbes.com/sites/joannmuller/2011/09/19/ford-looks-hypocritical-in-new-anti-bailout-commercial/
      dukeisduke
      • 2 Years Ago
      A smart idea. Suppliers going out of business impacts multiple automakers, just like GM or Chrysler failing would have had a ripple effect on Ford and the transplants, because they all buy parts from the same suppliers.
      Avinash Machado
      • 2 Years Ago
      Hope Alan won't retire for many more years.
      jboogiezx6
      • 2 Years Ago
      how do you like them apples?
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