DETROIT -- Mark Fields, president of the Americas at Ford Motor Co., is surprised that so few suppliers failed during last year's industry turmoil.
Now, as it and other automakers boost production, Ford is helping only a few suppliers buy materials, work out engineering problems or solve other issues, Fields said.
"I thought we would have seen more suppliers go under," he said last week during an interview. "They were a lot more resourceful than I think we gave them credit for."
Ford said last week that its second-quarter production in North America will be 625,000 vehicles, a 5 percent increase from the plan announced March 2. Compared with a year earlier, output is expected to rise 39 percent.
Suppliers value predictable volumes so they can plan efficiently, Fields said.
"Having that reliable process, getting [suppliers] to believe our volumes and giving them sufficient time to react is very important," he said. "That's the greatest gift we can give our supply base."
Meanwhile, Ford continues to reduce its roster of suppliers. The goal is to have 750 to 850 suppliers, Fields said, down from about 1,600 today. He wouldn't give a timetable.
More from the Fields interview will be published in the May 10 edition of Automotive News as part of the Talk from the Top series.