DETROIT May 12 General Motors Co,
already locked in a public relations crisis because of a deadly
ignition defect that has triggered the recall of 2.6 million
vehicles, has a new perception problem on its hands.
The U.S. company is now considered the worst big automaker
to deal with, according to a new survey of top suppliers to the
car industry in the United States.
The annual survey, conducted by the automotive consultant
group Planning Perspectives Inc, asks the industry's biggest
suppliers to rate their relationships with the six automakers
that account for more than 85 percent of all light vehicle sales
in the United States.
Those so-called "Tier 1" suppliers say GM is now their least
favorite big customer, according to the rankings, less popular
even than Chrysler, the unit of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles
, which since 2008 had consistently earned that dubious
Suppliers gave GM low marks on all kinds of key measures,
including its overall trustworthiness, its communication skills,
and its protection of intellectual property.
The suppliers also said that GM was the automaker least
likely to allow them to raise prices to recoup unexpected
material cost increases.
"As a result, GM is now the least preferred customer of
suppliers," PPI says.
Nissan Motor Co Ltd overtook Ford Motor Co
for third place in PPI's Supplier Working Relations Index,
pushing Dearborn-based Ford into fourth place. Toyota Motor Co
and Honda Motor Co Ltd finished in the No. 1
and No. 2 spots, respectively.
PPI, which has been conducting the survey for 14 years, says
supplier perceptions of automakers are critical because they can
determine which car makers see the suppliers' newest
technologies first, get their best pricing and work with their
John Henke, the head of PPI and a research fellow at Center
for Supply Chain Management at Rutgers University, said the
Japanese sweep of the top three places suggested the industry
"could be entering an era in supplier relations that doesn't
bode well for the U.S. Big Three."
The reason: the Japanese automakers are not just benefiting
from a deterioration in relations between suppliers and the Big
Three -- they are actually rising in the estimation of their
Toyota and Nissan, in particular, saw the percentage of
suppliers who characterized their relationship with the two
automakers as "good or very good" surge.
GM, meanwhile, is in an especially unenviable spot, with 55
percent of the suppliers surveyed characterizing their relations
with the automaker as "poor to very poor," up from 48 percent
One bit of good news for GM. When the list of car makers was
expanded to include the three German auto companies, which have
a far less significant market share in the U.S., suppliers said
Daimler AG's Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen AG
were even harder to deal with.
But because BMW ranked second in the expanded
list, just below Toyota but ahead of Honda, GM's overall
position fell to seventh place in the supplier's best/worst
(Reporting by James B. Kelleher in Detroit; Editing by