Ford Motor Co.’s top executive for auto parts purchasing said yesterday the number of the automaker’s suppliers that are under distress, bankruptcy protection or under observation has more than doubled in the last year.

Tony Brown, Ford’s vice-president for global purchasing, said more suppliers are in the category of being monitored as slumping auto sales force automakers to slow production and order fewer parts.

Ford will have 1,650 total suppliers at the end of 2009, compared with 2,198 at end of last year. Its goal is to eliminate short-term suppliers, with a target of 750 total suppliers. Ford purchases about $90 billion US in parts annually.