As far as North American suppliers are concerned, Toyota and Honda are the gold standard, while Ford, Nissan, Fiat Chrysler and General Motors are also-rans.
In the latest annual survey by Planning Perspectives Inc., 435 suppliers gave the purchasing operations of Toyota and Honda high grades for their top executives, bureaucracies and efforts to cultivate long-term relationships.
BMW AG, which was rated separately, also drew high grades.
But Ford, Nissan, FCA and GM each got worse scores than they did last year, ending a six-year stretch in which they had closed the gap with Honda and Toyota. Volkswagen, which was graded separately with BMW, did worst of all.
The survey did not get enough get responses to rate Hyundai and Mercedes-Benz.
John Henke, president of Planning Perspectives and author of the survey, says the Detroit 3 automakers appeared more willing to collaborate with suppliers during the recession, when their survival was at stake.
Now, purchasers at FCA and GM once again are focusing primarily on price cuts, Henke said.
"When internal mandates come down to reduce cost, buyers are simply reverting back to their old adversarial ways of getting the reductions," he noted in a written statement.
Henke graded each automaker on five metrics: relations with suppliers, communications, efforts to help suppliers cut costs, willingness to share savings and avoidance of hindrances such as late engineering changes.
GM purchasing chief Steve Kiefer said he is working to improve relations with suppliers.
"While there is more work to do, we have set clear objectives and implemented tools to achieve mutual business goals," he said in a written statement.
FCA purchasing chief Tom Finelli acknowledged his company's poor results and said he has launched a turnaround to improve ties with suppliers.
"We have significant progress to make," Finelli said in a written statement. "We have recently reorganized to focus on supplier relations globally, which should help us, among other things, drive consistent behaviors across our regions as well as throughout all levels of the organization."