It goes without saying that the last year or so has been a rather challenging one, both for automakers and automotive suppliers. The ripple effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are still being felt across the industry in a number of ways, leading to shortages in the rubber, foam, steel, and semiconductor chip industries, to name just a few. Regardless, Plante Moran’s 21st annual North American Automotive OEM – Supplier Working Relations Index (WRI) Study indicates that many automotive manufacturers have actually improved their supplier relationships in the last year.
However, that doesn’t include Ford, which remained in fourth place – where it finished last year – yet dropped 15 points to score a 249. Meanwhile, the top three automakers – Toyota (347 points), Honda (316), and General Motors (289) – all improved their scores from 2020, as did fifth-place Nissan (211). FCA/Stellantis rounded out the list by dropping 28 points to finish sixth with 170 points.
The 2021 Supplier Working Relations Index Study surveyed 728 salespeople from 479 tier-one automotive suppliers from February through April, asking them to rate each automaker in eight different purchasing areas comprised of 20 different commodity areas and 2,333 buying situations. Those responses are then used to calculate a WRI score based on a proprietary economic model.
This year’s study also took a look back at the last nine years of results, over which Ford has dropped a total of 18 points. Meanwhile, Toyota has gained two, GM improved by a total of 38 points, and Honda by 23 points. Nissan has dropped 45 points, while FCA/Stellantis has lost a whopping 78.
Meanwhile, Ford has been working to improve its supplier relationships over the last several months, including by paying its bills early to help financially struggling suppliers at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the automaker has also warned suppliers to stop leaking photos of its future products to the press and recently created a revised formal code of conduct for its suppliers to adhere to as well.