Carmakers acknowledge risks in getting Chinese parts suppliers

Article by Anita Panait, on February 13, 2014

If there is one thing that other carmakers should worry about from the incident at Aston Martin where the company recalled its sports cars due to fake parts material, it should be the risk of buying key components in China without implementing adequate quality control measures. Officials at a number of major carmakers remarked that they have to avoid Chinese-owned suppliers or help them establish sound production processes and train workers to prevent quality issues. Some traders in one of the country’s biggest plastics supply hubs remarked to a Reuters reporter that counterfeit plastic material of the kind discovered in an accelerator pedal supplied to Aston Martin was prevalent, especially as companies face increasing cost pressures.

Aston Martin recently recalled most of its vehicles built since 2007 after discovering that Chinese subcontractors were using counterfeit plastic material in parts supplied to the carmaker. A spokeswoman for Aston Martin remarked on Feb. 7 that the Chinese sub-suppliers of accelerator pedal arms are being replaced "as soon as possible" by a supplier based in the United Kingdom.

A senior executive at Toyota Motor Corp. in China told Reuters that what happened to Aston Martin "is precisely why we don't procure much in China," especially from Chinese-owned parts makers. Toyota purchases most critical parts from China-based units of Japanese and other global parts makers.

The Toyota executive said that in some cases, the carmaker brings in materials directly from Japan. "There is risk in expanding our procurement reach within China," the Toyota official said. "When we do buy from Chinese suppliers, we do so only after starting small with a simpler component and taking time to nurture them."

Topics: china

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