US: increased sales and rising number of models strain automakers and suppliers image

The Detroit automakers are on an unprecedented global offensive of products this year. For example, Ford alone is churning out 23 products, 16 of them also dedicated to the North American region.

Among them are the high value, high sales, high earnings 2015 Ford Mustang sports car and F-150 pickup truck. Such key products and the global launches have forced the No.2 US carmaker to reevaluate the relationship to its supplier base. According to Hau Thai-Tang, Ford’s global head of purchasing, the move now allows a deeper cooperation, ensuring higher quality products from the first days of the launch.

“In a complex company, it helps to be pulling in the same direction,” Thai-Tang said. “We have shifted beyond trying to forecast an event and beyond monitoring and reacting,” he added.

The problem is not singular to Ford, according to Dave Andrea, senior vice president of the Original Equipment Suppliers Association, a lobby group for the component manufacturers. The suppliers, cautiously rebuilding their businesses since the 2008-2009 crisis, would reach a sustainable income level if the automakers manufacture 12.7 million vehicles a year in North America, says Andrea. The news is great for them though, as 2014 is forecasted with a production of at least 16.75 million cars and trucks, rising to 17.26 million units in 2015 and 17.65 million vehicles the following year.