DETROIT -- Ford Motor Co. has added 16 companies to its list of preferred suppliers. Five of the suppliers are based in Europe. These are the first new names added to the list since August 2008.
The selections by purchasing chief Tony Brown, announced Wednesday at Ford headquarters in suburban Detroit, lean heavily into powertrain suppliers such as Germany's Kolbenschmidt Pierburg AG and Denso Corp. of Japan. The additions also include France's Faurecia SA, and Sweden's Trelleborg AB.
Brown said that despite industry turmoil spurred by the deepening recession, Ford is making steady progress identifying more suppliers for long-term relationships. At the same time, the company continues to reduce its total number of suppliers, said Brown, group vice president of global purchasing.
The new members bring to 82 the number of companies in the Aligned Business Framework -- 59 production parts makers and 23 nonproduction suppliers.
The program, begun in 2005, outlines future collaboration between the automaker and the selected suppliers, including up-front payment of engineering and development costs.
The effort is aimed at cutting the number of Fords suppliers worldwide in half. Survivors are rewarded with long-term deals that allow early access to product-development programs, improving their chances of profitability.
Brown attributes the preferred supplier initiative with improving Fords relationship with parts makers. In recent years, Fords standing among North American suppliers has risen, according to an annual survey conducted by John Henke Jr. of Planning Perspectives Inc. in suburban Detroit.
Ford has a long-term goal to reduce its supply base to about 750 production suppliers eligible for major sourcing. Ford had 3,300 such suppliers in 2004, a number that had declined by about half at the end of 2008.
Fords top suppliers are expected to gain an increasing amount of Fords annual $70 billion annual parts buy.