Suppliers aren't very happy with Volkswagen.
Last October, the German newspaper Handelsblatt revealed the German automaker was demanding price cuts of $3.4 billion from its suppliers to cover the growing cost of its diesel emissions scandal.
So it's not surprising that Volkswagen's North American purchasing operation got rock-bottom ratings in Planning Perspectives Inc.'s survey of senior supplier executives.
Only 12 percent of respondents reported good relations with VW -- which ranked the worst among 10 automakers overall. Volkswagen did not respond to requests for comment last week.
John Henke, president of Planning Perspectives, said VW had gotten low ratings even before it launched its cost-cutting campaign last October. "They have always been the worst possible customer," Henke said. "They believe that suppliers have to do business with them because they're big. It's utterly stupid."
Planning Perspective's questionnaire for senior executives was a survey-within-a-survey.
The main survey queried midlevel managers about their daily interactions with the Big Six automakers: Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Ford, General Motors and Fiat Chrysler. A second questionnaire asked senior executives their opinions of the Big Six plus Volkswagen, Hyundai, Mercedes-Benz and BMW.
The senior managers generally echoed the midlevel managers. Toyota was ranked highest, followed by Honda, BMW and Mercedes. Ford and GM ranked fifth and sixth, followed by Fiat Chrysler, Nissan, Hyundai and Volkswagen.
Henke says 174 senior managers assessed VW, and their reviews were brutal. Respondents claimed Volkswagen "trusts its suppliers the least," and they said the company was least likely to compensate them for fluctuating raw material costs.
It was a stark contrast to top-rated Toyota. Senior execs said the Japanese automaker led all automakers in prompt payment of invoices, compensation for fluctuating raw material costs and resolution of payment disputes.
And only BMW got higher ratings than Toyota for confidential treatment of a supplier's intellectual property. Like other automakers, Toyota had increased pressure on suppliers to cut prices. But that wasn't enough to undermine Toyota's status as the senior managers' favorite customer.