A preliminary inquiry by the Federal Trade Commission has not dampened enthusiasm that Ford Motor Co., General Motors and DaimlerChrysler AG have for their joint trade exchange.
The three partners in the venture said last week they would continue to develop the online purchasing and communications exchange and cooperate with any FTC inquiry.
'We don't expect any negative repercussions from it,' said Dan Jankowski, a GM spokesman.
The new exchange was designed from the outset to operate as an independent company, a spokesman said.
The FTC last week would not comment on its inquiry. But the agency's antitrust enforcers certainly want to make sure the exchange does not result in collusion to lower prices on parts they buy.
Ford, GM and DaimlerChrysler still want additional automakers to join the exchange. Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. and Renault SA have indicated an interest in joining the venture. Representatives from the three partners are negotiating with Nissan and Renault.
On the sheer magnitude of the volume and players involved, 'I've got to believe that the FTC had to look at it,' said Doug Gross, automotive managing director for consulting firm KPMG in Detroit. The three automakers say the exchange will handle about $250 billion worth of purchasing annually.
Although Ford, GM and DaimlerChrysler have struck first, they will not be the only automotive companies to set up an exchange.
In January Dana Corp., along with technology partners Ariba Inc. and Aspect Development Inc., announced it was developing a global e-procurement system. The new Internet-based system will allow Dana to manage its $8 billion in annual worldwide purchases more efficiently.
Last week, Meritor Automotive Inc. announced it was creating a parts exchange, FleetWorks.com, designed for buyers and sellers in the commercial truck aftermarket.
'Competition is good,' said A. Alan Turfe, executive director of GM's TradeXchange. 'We are working hard to make sure that our value proposition is the best that's out there.'
Nevertheless, other automakers are sure to join the Ford, GM and DaimlerChrysler venture, said KPMG's Gross.
Said Gross: 'It makes so much sense. It reduces cost and increases information flow.'