DETROIT -- Suppliers are responding to the efforts by Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Co. to treat their parts suppliers as valued partners instead of adversaries.
Ford and GM were the big winners in a survey of working relations between automakers and suppliers released today by Planning Perspectives Inc., a suburban Detroit consulting company. Even Chrysler Group improved, though it is still at the bottom of the six automakers as rated by North American suppliers.
Honda Motor Co. and Toyota Motor Corp. still rank highest. But the Detroit 3's scores all rose, while scores for Toyota, Honda and Nissan Motor Co. all fell. Ford took over third place from Nissan.
And in a separate survey by UBS Securities, suppliers ranked Ford as the most preferred customer -- ahead of Toyota and Honda.
In another sign of its improving supplier relations, Ford received three out of four Innovation Partnership Awards that were given as part of this year's Automotive News PACE Awards.
"We rely heavily on our supply base for technology," Tony Brown, Ford group vice president for global purchasing, told Automotive News, "so it is important that we have healthy supplier relations."
Good supplier relations, he notes, can give an automaker access to the latest technology sooner. "When a supplier has the technology, who do they want to take it to?" he said. "Company No. 1, company No. 2, or Ford?"