European suppliers must play smart with the opportunity they have in Japan now that Renault controls Nissan.
Non-Japanese suppliers have been waiting decades for a chance like this. Winning orders there has been virtually impossible. But the glorified cronyism that the Japanese call keiretsu is breaking up. Some traditional Japanese suppliers are in trouble.
Still, Nissan's established suppliers are very good. And the new opportunities for the Europeans doesn't mean that they can dodge Nissan's tough standards and still expect to get the business.
But there's no reason why they should not succeed. European suppliers have proved they can work well with Japanese transplant factories in Europe. The opportunities at Nissan could lead to business with other Japanese companies. And experience in Japan will benefit European partsmakers all over the world, including North America and emerging markets.
But European suppliers must be ready to do something they have had little incentive to do in the past. They must invest in r&d facilities and even new capacity in Japan.
That's a big commitment. Delphi Automotive set up an elaborate engineering center outside Tokyo six years ago, but the payoff has been slow in coming. That has frightened off some suppliers.
Investing in Japan is a risk for Europeans, but it finally seems like a risk worth taking.