New Explorers still have years old problems because...? | Ford Explorer Forums - Serious Explorations

  • Register Today It's free!

New Explorers still have years old problems because...?


Well-Known Member
March 25, 2013
Reaction score
City, State
Year, Model & Trim Level
2013Limited 301A TuxBlack
(visit link for graphs and such)

2014 Annual Automotive OEM-Supplier Relations Study Shows Toyota and Honda on top; Nissan displacing Ford in the middle; Chrysler and GM falling behind

PR Newswire

DETROIT, May 12, 2014

DETROIT, May 12, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Results of the 14th annual automotive industry study on the major US and Japanese automakers' working relations with their suppliers show the US Big Three are once again falling behind their Japanese competitors, with Toyota, Honda and Nissan finishing 1-2-3 respectively in the top rankings.
This year’s WRI show the Japan’s Big Three ranking 1-2-3 and the US automakers below at 4-5-6.

The study is watched carefully in automakers' boardrooms because an OEM's supplier relations rating can be directly correlated to its profitability and competitiveness – including which OEM customer is first to see a supplier's newest technology and gets their best pricing.

The results of the 2014 North American Automotive - Tier 1 Supplier Working Relations Index® Study show the following:

Toyota's and Honda's efforts to improve supplier relations have paid off as they have regained their momentum and are ranked one and two, respectively, while extending their lead. Honda is the "most preferred" customer among the six OEMs.
Nissan, the second most improved overall following Toyota, has taken over third place from Ford.
After showing no real improvement in supplier relations for four years, Ford has slipped back to fourth place, having been passed by Nissan.
For the first time in six years, Chrysler's overall ranking in supplier relations has fallen and the company is now ranked fifth, only one point above GM.
In spite of its recent efforts to improve supplier relations, GM has been displaced by Chrysler and has fallen into last place overall among the Big Six.
If the Big Three German automakers were included, BMW would be second overall, while Mercedes would be well below GM and Volkswagen would be in a very distant last place by a wide margin.

The annual study focuses primarily on Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Nissan, Honda, and Toyota, because these six automakers comprise 86 percent of light vehicle sales in the U.S. The German Three – BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and VW– are reported separately (editor's note: see end of this news release).

Referring to the Working Relations Index® graph (below), this year's results suggest that the industry could be entering a new era in supplier relations that doesn't bode well for the US Big Three, said John W. Henke, Jr., Ph.D., president and CEO of Planning Perspectives, Inc., Birmingham, MI, ( whose firm conducts the annual study. Dr. Henke is also Professor of Marketing at Oakland University (Rochester, MI) and a Research Fellow at The Center for Supply Chain Management, Rutgers University (New Brunswick, NJ).

"History repeats itself. Historically, the Japanese automakers – especially Toyota and Honda – had a commanding lead in supplier relations and were the companies suppliers preferred to deal with. Then, the combination of the 2008 recession, the impact of the 2010 Japanese earthquake, and the increase in purchasing personnel caused both companies to lose their way and their rankings plummeted," said Henke.

"Meanwhile the US automakers, under new purchasing leadership, made significant improvements in their supplier relations. Now, however, the ranking trends suggest that the Japanese automakers have figured out their problems, corrected them, and are back on track, while the US automakers appear to be faltering. In fact, this year GM and Chrysler supplier relations have fallen back into the Very Poor to Poor range."

Henke and his team have identified two major sets of factors that affect supplier relations. In the first set are 16 variables that have been identified as the primary drivers of supplier relations. The variables comprise five components of the Working Relations Index® that cover quality of the overall supplier relationship, communication, help given the supplier, working together, and supplier profit opportunity.

The second set of factors includes foundational business areas involving leadership, execution and fairness. These factors must be present to achieve good relations, but do not themselves impact the WRI® rating. Foundational areas include such things as paying invoices on time, resolving payment issues fairly, allowing suppliers to recover some material cost increases, and OEM terms and conditions regarding intellectual property.

"You might think of foundational areas as being the equivalent of 'quality' in cars today; quality alone doesn't drive sales, but without it, you're not in the car business," he said. "This year's results show that the Japanese automakers have a better understanding of the foundational areas and are executing them more effectively than are the US Big Three."

Executive leadership and execution
One major foundational area this year's study focused on is the role of the OEM's vice president of purchasing and his or her buyers in building trusting supplier relations. At some automakers, the study shows there is a disconnect between the executive leadership and the buyers, which can contribute to lower WRI® ratings.

Of the Big Six automakers, Honda's and Toyota's VPs and buyers are rated number one and two, respectively, in working to build more trusting supplier relations, and their buyers are being the most transparent among the OEMs in providing suppliers information. At both companies, the VPs and buyers are the most highly rated of the OEMs.
At Nissan, the purchasing VP is seen as actively working toward building more trusting relations, and Nissan buyers are ranked higher in working to build trusting relations and in information transparency than the buyers at the US Big Three.
GM's purchasing vice president is also highly ranked in building trusting relations, following Toyota, but GM buyers are ranked very low in working to build trust and in being transparent when providing suppliers information suppliers need – only slightly above Chrysler.
Efforts of Chrysler's purchasing vice president to build more trusting relations are at their lowest level in two years and trending downward. Chrysler buyers are ranked the lowest of the Big Six in building trusting relations and in information transparency.
Ford's purchasing vice president is ranked last in building trusting relations but he is new to his position and hasn't had time to fully establish himself. However, Ford buyers lead Chrysler and GM in their efforts to build trusting relations and in supplier information transparency.

"The best possible situation is an automaker with a strong executive purchasing leader who is consistent and fair in execution and who communicates well, and has buyers who follow this lead. That is what's happening at the Japanese Big Three," says Henke, "and it is an important contribution to their moving ahead of the Detroit Three again."

Key findings of the 2014 study show the following:

GENERAL MOTORS: For the first time in six years, GM's ranking in supplier relations has dropped, putting it back into the Poor to Very Poor range. The primary reasons for the drop are a decrease in supplier trust, in supplier communication and the amount of help GM provides (or doesn't provide) to suppliers to reduce cost and improve quality. GM is ranked lowest in protecting suppliers' intellectual property and proprietary information. GM is also the least likely to allow recovery of material cost increases. As a result, GM is now the least preferred customer of suppliers, in spite of the efforts of the purchasing VP to improve – an example of good leadership, but poor execution by buyers who interface with suppliers on a daily basis.
NISSAN: Nissan has improved across all areas of the WRI --- the only OEM to do so. Significant improvement occurred due to suppliers being given greater flexibility in meeting piece price and tooling objectives, and in Nissan covering sunk costs when programs were delayed or cancelled. Nissan, however, is the least fair, along with Chrysler, in allocating chargebacks to suppliers, but its treatment of confidential proprietary information and intellectual property is significantly higher than Chrysler or GM.
CHRYSLER: For the first time in six years, Chrysler's overall supplier relations ranking has decreased, albeit slightly, putting it back into the Poor to Very Poor range. Chrysler buyers are ranked lowest in building trust and in transparency when providing information. Chrysler significantly trails all OEMs in paying invoices on time and according to terms, and in resolving issues in a fair and equitable manner.
FORD: Ford's overall supplier relations remained stagnant for the fifth year. It now trails Nissan because of a drop in supplier communication and in help it provides suppliers to reduce cost. Also, suppliers are significantly more likely to recover material cost increases from Ford than either Chrysler or GM, but significantly less so than from Honda and Toyota.
HONDA: For the first time since 2007, Honda's overall supplier relations have improved in the WRI ratings to being significantly higher than the Detroit Three, but trailing Toyota. Of the Big Six car companies, Honda is the most preferred customer, significantly more so than Nissan and the Detroit Three. Honda's increase is due primarily to improvement in three key areas: supplier relationship, supplier communication, and supplier profit opportunity. Honda is top-rated with Toyota in paying invoices on time and according to terms, as well as in resolving invoice payment issues. Honda is also tied with Toyota in allowing suppliers to recover material cost increases and in the confidential treatment of proprietary information and intellectual property.
TOYOTA: Toyota has finally rediscovered the "Toyota Way" and is showing its first improvement in the WRI ratings in seven years. Toyota improved in nearly all key areas including supplier trust, communication, help provided to suppliers to reduce cost and improve quality, supplier profit opportunity, and in involving suppliers throughout its product development process – which significantly increased. Toyota is ranked highest in paying invoices on time, resolving payment issues in a fair and timely manner, as well as in allocating chargebacks to suppliers and allowing suppliers to recover materials cost increases. Toyota is also the most highly rated in confidential treatment of supplier proprietary information and intellectual property, and in terms and conditions concerning proprietary information and intellectual property.

"Cleary Toyota and Honda are, once again, setting the standard for doing the right things right when it comes to supplier relations, and it will pay off competitively for them in the future if they keep it up. But they still have a ways to go," said Henke.

"A few years ago, we documented the competitive advantages that accrue to an OEM from suppliers who prefer working with them, not the least of which is getting suppliers' best technology, the best pricing, and the best service. Chrysler and GM need to get their buyers on-board and tie their compensation to improved supplier relations if they hope to be the beneficiaries of all that suppliers can provide them. Clearly, their buyers are the weakest link in their supplier relations."

Over the years, the study has shown convincingly that automakers with Good-Very Good working relations realize considerable benefits. Their suppliers:

Are more willing to invest in new technology to meet future OEM needs, and are more willing to share new technology with the OEM
Are more willing to support the automaker beyond contractual terms
Communicate more openly and honestly with the OEM
Give greater price concessions to OEMs.

Whereas, automakers with poor relations:

Receive smaller price concessions and must work harder to get them
Get supplier support with less experienced supplier personnel
Typically are not among the first to get their suppliers' best ideas and new technology.

Inconsistent Performance across OEM Purchasing Areas

Another factor that can impact the WRI ratings is performance consistency across an automaker's six major purchasing areas and reducing the range between the top-ranked purchasing area and lowest ranked area (see Table 1 below).

While Toyota is top-ranked overall, there is an 83-point range between its highest-ranked purchasing area, Electrical & Electronics, and its lowest-ranked purchasing area, Interior. Conversely, while GM is last in the WRI rankings this year, it has only a 49-point spread between its highest ranked purchasing area and its lowest ranked area. Nissan, ranked third overall, is best in consistency across purchasing areas with only a 32-point spread.

This inconsistency is further illustrated by comparing the automakers' scores in these purchasing areas to last year's results – most are very different. For instance, last year, Toyota's top purchasing area was Interiors; this year it is its lowest ranked area.

The German Big Three

In 2010, Planning Perspectives began studying the Big Three German automakers with manufacturing operations in North America: BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Volkswagen. Some broad supplier relation trends are identifiable and interesting.

For instance, BWM dropped slightly this year (WRI® = 311 vs. 324) and now follows Toyota in the overall supplier relations ranking of the automotive manufacturers (see chart below).

Mercedes and Volkswagen continue to slide in the rankings with supplier relations for both automakers dropping significantly since last year. Mercedes dropped from 289 to 227, while VW dropped to 181 from 231. Both manufacturers trail all other OEMs. Interestingly, the WRI rankings for the two Volkswagen operations -- VW-Puebla and VW-Chattanooga -- are 187 and 177, dropping from 241 and 216, respectively.

The decrease at BMW has resulted from two decreases across the WRI® Hindrance and Communication components, which offset a slight improvement in the Help Component.

The Mercedes and VW WRI® decreases occurred because of reductions in all five WRI® components: Help, Communication, Hindrance, Relationship, and Profit Opportunity.

If the Japanese 3, the Detroit 3 and German 3 were combined on a consolidated WRI® graph as below, Toyota would rank highest of the nine automakers and VW the lowest.

About The Study: Now in its 14th year, the Annual North American Automotive OEM-Tier 1 Supplier Working Relations Index® Study tracks supplier perceptions of working relations with their automaker customers in which they rate the US and Japanese automakers across the six major purchasing areas broken down into 14 commodity areas. The six purchasing areas are: body-in-white, chassis, electrical & electronics, exterior, interior, and powertrain. The results of the study are used to calculate the WRI® based on five key areas that contribute to collaborative supplier relations: OEM Help, OEM Hindrance, OEM-Supplier Relationship, OEM Communication and Supplier Profit Opportunity. These areas, in turn, are further broken down into 16 working relations variables.

This year, 411 sales persons from 362 Tier 1 suppliers – representing 1,283 buying situations (e.g., supplying brake systems to Chrysler, tires to Toyota, seats to GM) and 56% of the OEMs' annual buy – responded to the survey. Demographically, the supplier-respondents represent 29 of the Top 50 North American suppliers, 43 of the Top 100 North American suppliers. For the last four years, BMW, Mercedes Benz, and VW have also been included.

About PPI: Since 1990, PPI has specialized in developing and implementing supplier surveys for the automotive OEMs and Tier 1 suppliers, and companies in 18 other service and manufacturing industries worldwide, including the airframe, aircraft engine, computer, construction tool, electronics, energy, and food industries. In 2001, PPI initiated its syndicated annual North American Automotive OEM - Supplier Working Relations Index® Study of the Big Six US and Japanese automakers and in 2010 began tracking the US-based Big 3 German automakers as well. This annual study has been recognized as the benchmark of supplier working relations for the automotive industry in numerous academic research articles, as well as the Harvard Business Review and several books.

The Studies provide critical sales and financial planning information for suppliers and their sales, marketing, and financial staffs, as well as a means by which OEMs and their purchasing staffs can get a reality check on their working relations with suppliers. John W. Henke, Jr., Ph.D. is president of Planning Perspectives, Inc., a Professor of Marketing at Oakland University in Rochester, MI, and a Research Fellow at The Center for Supply Chain Management, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ. PPI is based in Birmingham, Michigan USA and can be reached at +1.248.644.7690. Visit PPI at

Including the German Big 3 in the WRI reshuffles the rankings with BMW number 2 and VW last.

Join the Elite Explorers for $20 each year.
Elite Explorer members see no advertisements, no banner ads, no double underlined links,.
Add an avatar, upload photo attachments, and more!

I guess I didn't get the connection between the article and "New Explorers still have years old problems".

Nice article and review. Most likely true. I already knew most of this as a owner of a 2013 POS.

 just seems like many brand new Ex's have bad parts in them from the start; window regulators, steering, brakes/calipers, ...

Nice article and review. Most likely true. I already knew most of this as a owner of a 2013 POS.

You should change your make/model under your user name to the correct vehicle.

2013 POS

:wavey: just seems like many brand new Ex's have bad parts in them from the start; window regulators, steering, brakes/calipers, ...

As do almost every other brand . . .


The electronics are a POS. The rest of the vehicle I like.

There biggest mistake was using Microsoft instead of Apple to design the electronics! Apple has always been way more user intuitive.

There biggest mistake was using Microsoft instead of Apple to design the electronics! Apple has always been way more user intuitive.
There are more issues than MFT. The OP's problem was with the body computer. Microsoft is the vendor MFT. Don't know who may have consulted or contributed to the vehicle control systems.

Ford's electronics are just not up to par. Their JD Powers survey scores reflect this lack of quality.


There are more issues than MFT. The OP's problem was with the body computer. Microsoft is the vendor MFT. Don't know who may have consulted or contributed to the vehicle control systems.

Ford's electronics are just not up to par. Their JD Powers survey scores reflect this lack of quality.

I've got over 12000 miles and I have had no prooblems with the electronics so far, but my only complaint is the MFT touch was designed by socially challenged designers instead of people persons directing software designers.