Introduction By now, automotive materials and components suppliers should be well aware of the changes in procurement practices which have swept through the vehicle manufacturers of the west as they have sought to emulate their Japanese competitors. In Europe and in the USA that process of change has been given added impetus by the arrival of Japanese transplant assembly plants and a growing R&D presence, together with the arrival of Japanese components suppliers. So, with existing western vehicle manufacturers emulating the new lean supply practices of the Japanese, and with the growth in the direct Japanese presence, the 1990s have seen a continuing transformation in the way automotive components companies do business.