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GERMANY: Strategic suppliers gain importance at Ford

By just-auto.com editorial team | 6 November 2008

Ford is focusing its purchasing more closely on its 65 most important suppliers.

Speaking at the Automobilwoche Congress in Berlin, Birgit Behrendt, head of purchasing for Ford of Europe, said that Ford wanted to achieve better economies of scale for itself and for its suppliers, and also shorten development times.

The policy has been developed over the last four years and is now being built up further alongside global vehicle platform developments, said Behrendt.

"We are trying to build up cooperation with our strategic suppliers to achieve even more scale effects," said the Ford manager.

Suppliers that are not considered strategic partners can expect difficult times ahead. Behrends said: "We have established that we can work more easily and more efficiently with our strategic suppliers on the joint development of global platforms."

Behrendt said that this strategy was critical to the development of the new Fiesta platform, particularly in terms of reducing development times. Already Ford works with two thirds of its suppliers in two or more regions. This is expected to increase.

The next major global platform expected to benefit from the approach is the Focus (which also underpins the Volvo S40/V50 and Mazda 3). At the moment there are two platforms for different regions of the world (North America has the 'original', Europe and Asia the second generation) and they share only around 20% of their parts. This figure must rise on the next generation to around 80%. The Fiesta has achieved 65% commonality between different versions of the car (there are South American and Indian variations, for example).