YOKOHAMA, Japan — The mantra among Japanese automakers these days is that changing times mean changing tactics, changing technologies and, perhaps most jarring of all, changing parts suppliers.
For foreign suppliers, long blocked from the local market by Japan's close-knit keiretsu system of vertically integrated parts makers, the upheaval presents a game-changing opportunity.
German giant Continental thinks the moment is right for sales to surge in Japan, says Bert Wolfram, CEO of Continental Automotive Japan, the supplier's local subsidiary.
"Bringing cutting-edge technologies to the Japanese market is going to drive us forward," Wolfram said at his company's headquarters here just south of Tokyo. "That's what customers want and require. That's where the open door is.
"In the past, they were more conservative when it comes to technology."