BRUSSELS - North American suppliers generally achieve better quality than European suppliers, say European purchasing executives.
Bo Anderson, vice president of supply for GM Europe, just finished a four-year stint with GM purchasing in the United States. Cost is the same on both sides of the ocean, he said, but North American suppliers have higher quality because automakers' expectations are higher.
The Europeans are ahead on technology, Anderson said.
Simpler specifications and a less complicated way of doing business contribute to the better quality, said Christer Palm, vice president of strategic sourcing and purchasing at Volvo Car Corp.
He said European makers are partially to blame, because 'we complicate life and put costs into the supplier unnecessarily.'
Two European luxury makers with factories in the United States have mixed feelings.
Johannes Rudnitzki, vice president of purchasing for Mercedes-Benz AG, said most of Mercedes' U.S. suppliers are joint ventures between European companies and North Americans. 'I think there is no difference in the supplier standards in NAFTA and Western Europe,' Rudnitzki said. Mercedes will launch its Alabama-built M-class sport-utility in fall.
Wilhelm Becker, vice president of procurement at BMW AG, said Europeans respond better to customer needs. 'The Americans have experience with high-volume production. The Europeans are more concentrated on variants and what the customer wants,' said Becker.
BMW has been making its Z3 for a year in Spartanburg, S.C.