BMW, Mercedes and Porsche lead 2014 European Supplier Choice Survey

Accepting the 2014 European Supplier Choice Survey awards were, from left, Jochen Schaefers, Mercedes-Benz Cars head of communication for procurement and supplier quality; Eligio Saba, Porsche director of procurement for powertrain; Niels Angel, BMW head of purchasing strategy for innovations.

Photo credit: Moulay el Mzamzi el Idrissi
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Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated the total number of automakers that ranked above the industry average and misstated Volkswagen's placement in the overall ranking.

BMW Group, Mercedes-Benz Cars and Porsche AG were named the top three automakers in terms of openness to supplier innovation, according to the 2014 European Supplier Choice Survey.

Conducted by Deloitte on behalf of Automotive News Europe, the second edition of the European Supplier Choice Survey is based on questionnaires supplied by nearly 100 supplier executives operating in Europe. The executives evaluated 23 automakers operating in Europe, including Russia, on how they respond to supplier innovation.

Nine automakers achieved above average scores in 2014 with BMW, Mercedes and Porsche on top. Automotive News Europe will provide a brand-by-brand ranking of the top nine for 2014 in its next e-magazine, which will be published July 7.

Just one automaker from last year’s top three – BMW – finished among Europe’s best this year.

“We aim to continue incorporating exciting innovations into our vehicles in the future – ahead of the competition and in collaboration with our suppliers,” Niels Angel, head of purchasing strategy for innovation at BMW, said after accepting the award on his company’s behalf on Thursday. “Our top products provide the ideal platform for our partners to showcase their know-how with the world’s most successful premium manufacturer.”

Jochen Schaefers, head of communications for Mercedes-Benz Cars procurement and supplier quality, said: "With strong brands and innovative products, we are focused on what we do best: developing and producing inspiring premium automobiles. This award further confirms our commitment to work hand-in-hand with our suppliers to bring leading edge technologies into the cars from the very first sketch."

Eligio Saba, director procurement powertrain at Porsche AG, gave a lot of credit to suppliers for the German automaker’s current success.

"Eighty percent of the added value of Porsche is driven by our suppliers,” Saba said. “Those figures prove that the innovational power and the technologies of our suppliers are essential for our success, maybe more than ever before."

Overall score flat

Volkswagen brand and Volvo were in the top three in 2013. Volvo was above average in 2014 and nearly made the top three while VW finished just above the industry average, according to the survey results.

Said Automotive News Europe Editor Luca Ciferri: “Two of the three automakers to make the top three are different from last year, which shows a lot changed in the last year with regard to the interactions between OEMs and suppliers.”

“Our research continues to highlight the importance of OEM and supplier collaboration as a crucial element to succeed in an increasingly competitive automobile landscape,” Bill Forsythe, a U.S.-based principal at Deloitte Consulting, said Thursday.

He added that the 2014 findings showed there is still room for improvement as the automakers at the bottom of the ranking were about 300 points below the top performers, with 1,000 points being the perfect score. The average score in the 2014 survey was flat compared with 2013 at about 590 points.

The European Supplier Choice Survey, which was conducted electronically during April and May, asked suppliers executives for feedback on how automakers rank in five categories:

• Openness to new ideas

• Ease of working together on innovative ideas

• Level of trust

• Willingness to provide financial incentives/rewards to suppliers for their innovations

• Willingness to implement innovations.

Deloitte and Automotive News Europe presented the key findings of the 2014 survey during the annual general assembly of the European supplier association (CLEPA) on June 5 in Brussels.

“The biggest shift in the 2014 survey was the increased importance suppliers have given to being able to trust the OEMs in terms of confidentiality and willingness to share innovations. This demonstrates that new technologies are an asset that should be well protected and jointly nurtured,” Thomas Schiller, a partner at Deloitte Consulting GmbH in Munich, said.

The Supplier Choice Survey, which was launched by Automotive News Europe parent Automotive News in North America nearly a decade ago, is a well-recognized industry benchmark that assesses automakers on their ability to adopt and implement suppliers' innovations.

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