Nine suppliers agreed to pay $740 million in fines after pleading guilty to federal bid-rigging charges in September. The U.S. Justice Department says the suppliers are cooperating with the department's ongoing antitrust investigation, so more guilty pleas are expected.
Let's hope the bid-rigging news doesn't disrupt the mood at a time when automaker-supplier relations are on the mend.
Supplier survey results in recent years offer encouraging evidence that the two sides have become more collaborative and far less combative over pricing.
Price collusion by some suppliers may spring from the bad old days of the 1990s and early 2000s, when tensions between automakers and parts makers rose to a fever pitch. That is no excuse for conspiring to rig bids, but uncovering illegal conspiracies in some component sectors cannot be allowed to plunge carmakers and suppliers back to an era of distrust.
The industry cannot afford such a distraction.
The two sides must work together to meet daunting regulatory and environmental demands over the next decade.
Automakers and suppliers must be able to trust one another.