Suppliers and automakers lose love for each other

Munich. The relationship between suppliers and automakers is getting increasingly tense.

One example of this happened during a jubilee celebration for a textile company that supplies the auto industry.

During the party the chief buyer of an automaker took the managing director of the textile company to one side and accused the supplier of taking the automaker to the cleaners.

The buyer demanded a 20 percent discount within a week. Otherwise the textile boss could keep his goods.

This shows just how rocky the relationship between automakers and suppliers is becoming.

The most recent Supplier Satisfaction Index reflects the tension. The index was put together by the Forschungsstelle Automobilwirtschaft (Research Center for the Automobile Industry) headed by Wolfgang Meinig.

Participating businesses numbered 922. On a scale from one (very dissatisfied) to five (very satisfied), the automakers averaged 3.1.

In the category "honoring of investment achievements," the level of suppliers' satisfaction dropped. Suppliers noted significant worsening with regard to "duration until payment" and "compliance with terms of payment."

Suppliers criticized the lack of opportunity to adjust prices according to costs. They also condemned some automakers' for price-fixing on the Internet. One supplier claimed that pretend bids are put on the Internet to force down prices for components.

Almost all suppliers indicated that some automakers use their "power as purchasers" during price negotiations.

The marks for German manufacturers vary. BMW AG and Porsche AG received the best grades. DaimlerChrysler AG's popularity has decreased significantly. For example, regarding the honoring of research and engineering achievements, the automaker dropped to 3.0 points from 3.4 in 2001.

German suppliers' least favorite manufacturers are -- as during the previous years -- Adam Opel AG and Ford Motor Co.

Suppliers also complain that automakers' are not paying them promptly. Some manufacturers make their suppliers wait up to 90 days for the payment of already delivered components

Meanwhile, the textile company boss who was chastised over his high prices is considering finding new buyers for his high-tech materials -- outside the auto industry.

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