Japanese carmakers want to adapt the module-making expertise of European suppliers, both for production in Europe and the rest of the world.

"Europe isn't the only area of growth of Japanese vehicle makers. So we are looking for good suppliers that could help us worldwide," said Toru Onda, Honda Motor managing director and chief of purchasing operations.

"We are also looking for the module approach, where European suppliers are more advanced than Japanese [suppliers,]" said Onda. He also serves as chairman
of the purchasing committee for JAMA, the association of Japanese automakers.

European suppliers are used to designing, engineering and making modules - pre-assembled groups of related parts - for automakers. Japanese car makers are focusing their search on Tier 1 suppliers, Onda said, although "we are also open to talking with Tier 2 and Tier 3 suppliers."