Opportunity knocks with Toyota's supplier shake-up

Toyota's famed keiretsu network of suppliers has begun to crack under the stress of the strong yen.

Mitsuhisa Kato, the automaker's new global r&d chief, last week told Automotive News' Hans Greimel that the automaker will design vehicles that can accommodate parts made by overseas suppliers.

And if Toyota's current suppliers can't compete on price and technology, that's too bad.

Wow. Now, we don't expect behemoths such as Denso Corp., Aisin Seiki and Toyota Boshoku to be driven out of business. But I suspect that Kato means what he says and says what he means.

In April, Toyota unveiled a plan to reduce engineering costs by 30 percent, partly by standardizing half of the parts used in a typical Toyota vehicle.

This could be a very real opportunity for European and North American suppliers.