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Supplier Survey: Ford Improves But Toyota Tops

Michigan-based automaker was only one to post an improved score, rising 18 percent, but still ranked far behind Toyota and Honda in anual supplier survey.

NEW YORK (AP) -- Toyota Motor Corp. still has the best working relationship with automotive suppliers, but it's now closely followed by Honda Motor Co., according to an annual survey released Monday.

The ratings of Toyota and Nissan Motor Corp. both dropped significantly, while Chrysler LLC posted its second year of declines to fall to last place in the rankings slightly behind General Motors Corp., according to the survey by Planning Perspectives Inc. of Birmingham, Mich.

Ford Motor Co. was the only automaker to post an improved score, rising 18 percent, partially because of significant improvement in the area of supplier trust, but the Dearborn, Mich.-based company still ranked far behind Toyota and Honda.

"In the years we've been conducting this study, we've never seen such dramatic year-over-year shifts in the rankings of the six domestic and foreign domestic automakers," John W. Henke Jr., president and chief executive of Planning Perspectives, said in a statement. "This could signal a new chapter in OEM supplier relations going forward."

Automakers rely on parts suppliers to meet quality standards, provide new technology and make investments to fulfill supply contracts.

A total of 284 top-tier parts suppliers returned surveys for the study, which ranks the automakers based on degree of trust, open and honest communication, amount of help given to suppliers to reduce costs, and supplier profit opportunities, Planning Perspectives said.

Toyota scored 367, down from 415 last year, while Honda fell to 359 from a score of 380, and Nissan fell to 253 from 289.

The U.S.-based automakers occupied the bottom three spots. Ford rose to a score of 191 from 162, while GM fell to 163 from 174. Chrysler tumbled to 161 from 199.