'UK auto suppliers slip behind in quality race'

23 March 2000
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23 March 2000 | David Arminas

Nick Reilly, chairman and managing director of Vauxhall Motors, has expressed concern over the future of UK manufacturing, as automotive suppliers vie for global contracts.

Technology and quality are missing from the value equation, Reilly told CIPS members at a recent East Central conference.

"Sourcing award after sourcing award, our suppliers in the UK are simply not coming to the global forefront," said Reilly, who is also head of the Confederation of British Industry's economic committee.

"A good number of our UK suppliers are not keeping pace with the improvements being made around the world. That is not to say that we do not have any strong, globally competitive suppliers - we do. But we don't have as many as we did a decade ago," he said.

Reilly added that Vauxhall is not yet fully aware of the impact because it has not started building its new models, which will have fewer components from the UK than the current models. This means that there is still time for UK suppliers to react, he said.

Most vehicle manufacturers have reduced their supplier bases worldwide, according to a recent Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) report.

Automotive Supply Chain Management stated that in 1988 there were around 30,000 first-tier suppliers worldwide and last year the total was around 8,000. This could drop to 5,000 by 2005, the EIU has predicted.

Modular design is a factor for this reduction, as car manufacturers can buy in ready-made assemblies, such as instrument panels.


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