TODAY ALL automakers are concerned about quality and how their quality compares with everyone else's.
But some manufacturers seem interested only in trying to find a scapegoat for their problems. Here in the USA, companies far too often blame unions or 'imports' or suppliers for their own difficulties.
This year the suppliers are taking the heat.
Sometimes you get what you pay for.
I have always been amazed that a car company can go after suppliers for their lack of quality after spending years trying to beat the suppliers' prices down to the last penny. And the automakers do that without regard for the viability of the supplier or - far more important - whether the supplier can deliver the quality that the manufacturer claims to want.
Most of the parts in an automobile are made by someone outside the auto company.
You can't cut costs on the quality of your parts and expect to have a high-quality vehicle. The quality the customer sees will fall sharply, and warranty costs will rise.
Once upon a time, suppliers' margins were a lot higher. Today's purchasing departments know how to squeeze one last drop of blood from the proverbial stone. In many cases, one more drop will put the supplier out of business.
It was interesting to note that at least one tire manufacturer is saying no. Michelin said the price at which it has to sell its tires to General Motors in Europe is so low that the business is no longer viable.
There is a delicate balance between suppliers and vehicle manufacturers. But during this last automotive recession, many suppliers were caught between a rock and another hard place.
They couldn't afford to cut their prices anymore, and they couldn't afford to lose the business.
That's a great situation for vehicle manufacturers if they don't worry about the long-term viability of the supplier and, more important, the quality of the pieces.
Building a high-quality automobile with low warranty costs requires a relationship of value with suppliers.
To disregard the health and well-being of suppliers is a fatal mistake. Many automobile companies have made that mistake. The results always show up in the marketplace.