The story about how one of Aston Martin’s Chinese suppliers used counterfeit raw material in a pedal assembly is a couple weeks old but continues to make headlines. CNBC has a good summary of much of the news and captures the broader concern of over the incident, which has once again shown the willingness of Chinese suppliers to cut corners to improve profits – increasing supply risk in the process for global procurement organizations.
CNBC reports that the specific incident in the plastics area could be more widespread, noting that “some traders in one of China's largest plastics supply hubs told a Reuters reporter during a recent visit that counterfeit plastic material of the kind found in an accelerator pedal supplied to Aston Martin was widespread as manufacturers face increasing cost pressures.”
Curiously, the entire incident has helped a much more lowbrow brand differentiate itself through sourcing and quality control. Specifically, a Toyota executive is quoted in the article as suggesting to Reuters that the recall "is precisely why we don't procure much in China." CNBC further reports that “Toyota, which has extensive manufacturing activities in China, buys most critical components from China-based units of Japanese and other global parts producers. In some cases it brings in materials directly from Japan.”
As to the counterfeit material incident itself, Aston Martin notified US authorites that its supplier, a plastic injection molding company, Shenzhen Kexiang Mould Tool Co., used raw material in pedal arms that was not the Dupont plastic claimed. Furthermore, as CNBC reports, “the material was supplied by another southern China-based firm, Synthetic Plastic Raw Material Co … Kexiang was contracted to mold accelerator pedal arms by a Hong Kong company, Fast Forward Tooling, which in turn was contracted by a U.K.-based manufacturer, Precision Varionic International, according to Aston Martin documents filed with NHTSA.”
Aston Martin is remedying the situation by moving production – back to its own back yard in the UK. There’s no word yet on whether MI-6 is sending its famous secret agent to investigate.