Ford worked with Japanese automakers during recession to buoy suppliers, book says

Now this is interesting....

By Jaclyn Trop
The Detroit News

Ford Motor Co. worked with two Japanese automakers to keep their suppliers afloat during the recession, according to a book by Detroit News automotive reporter Bryce G. Hoffman that will be released March 13.

The secret alliance was part of a broader effort by Ford to shore up its supply base after the financial crisis of 2008 pushed many parts manufacturers to the brink of bankruptcy.

According to "American Icon: Alan Mulally and the Fight to Save Ford Motor Company" (Crown Business), Ford gathered an internal team during the financial collapse toward the end of 2008 to study its supplier base. Known as Project Quark, the study assessed which suppliers could be at risk of collapse if Ford's competitors went bankrupt or discontinued a vehicle model.

Ford monitored the situation of each of its critical suppliers in real time and took steps to support those that it deemed critical to its own operations. Ford also worked with Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co. to support their supplier base by buying from each others' suppliers, according to Hoffman.

General Motor Corp. declined to participate over concerns of the arrangement's legality and their own restructuring efforts, Hoffman reported.

Ford's own antitrust attorneys "carefully vetted" each trade among Ford, Toyota and Honda to support their suppliers, according to the book.

Chrysler, which was then headed toward bankruptcy, did not participate.

With Ford Motor Co.'s cooperation, "American Icon" tells the behind-the-scenes account of the automaker's turnaround.

Project Quark is still alive "in the sense that we maintain a robust database of our supplier to see how they would be affected by a change in the industry," said Ford spokesman Todd Nissen.
"American Icon" will be excerpted in The Detroit News beginning March 12.