BRUSSELS - North American suppliers achieve better quality in general than European suppliers, say European purchasing chiefs.
Bo Andersson, vice-president of supply for GM Europe, has just returned from four years working for GM purchasing in the US. Cost is the same on both sides of the ocean, he said, but North American suppliers achieve higher quality because the expectations of carmakers are higher.
The Europeans are ahead on technology, Andersson said.
Simpler specifications and a less complicated way of doing business contribute to the better US quality, said Christer Palm, vice-president of strategic sourcing and purchasing at Volvo Car Corp.
He said European makers are partially to blame, because 'we complicate life and put costs onto the supplier unncessarily.'
Two European luxury automakers with factories in the US have mixed feelings.
Johannes Rudnitzki, vice-president of purchasing for Mercedes-Benz, said most of its US suppliers are joint ventures formed between European and North American companies.
'I think there is no difference in the supplier standards in NAFTA and western Europe,' Rudnitzki said. Mercedes will launch its new US-built M class sport-utility this fall.
Wilhelm Becker, vice-president for procurement at BMW AG, believes Europeans respond better to customer needs. 'The Americans have experience with high volume production. The Europeans are more concentrated on variants and what the customer wants,' said Becker. 'At BMW, we expect suppliers to follow changes (in demand) day-by-day and to change and show a lot of flexibility.'
BMW has been producing its Z3 roadster for a year in Spartanburg, South Carolina.