It may have been a feat for Ford Motor Co. to build an assembly plant in the Amazon of Brazil. But it was an even bigger accomplishment to work out the relationships among lawyers, accountants and directors of the more than a dozen companies on three continents that are at the heart of the automaker's new approach to vehicle assembly.
At the $1.9 billion Amazon project, which started production in April in Bahia, Brazil, suppliers do not merely build parts for the Ford Fiesta, they share in the cost and ownership of the entire complex.
Ford is beginning to unveil its two-year Amazon project, revealing one of the industry's most radical approaches to automaker-supplier relations.
Eighteen Ford suppliers and supplier partners footed $700 million of the project cost. In exchange, the suppliers are integrated into the venture, reviewing decisions on how the cars will be marketed, where they will be exported and what volumes will be.
Ford and the suppliers share some administrative services, have similar employee pay and benefit plans and have common utility arrangements. A single company handles maintenance for the whole site.