According to Automotive News Europe, Denso has become a leading supplier of common-rail diesel systems in Europe by using the same suppliers as rivals Robert Bosch and Delphi.

The Japanese parts maker had no experience working with European suppliers of common-rail diesel components before it started building the systems in December 2002 at its plant in Hungary, about 35 miles (65km) southwest of Budapest.

Instead of taking a chance on getting poor quality components, Denso worked with many of the same suppliers that were providing diesel parts to Bosch and Delphi.

"When Bosch changed suppliers for its common-rail system, we did the same thing," said the executive vice president responsible for production of diesel-engine products at Denso Manufacturing Hungary, Satoshi Nagasaka, during a press briefing.

Said a Bosch spokesman, "That is not the way we choose our suppliers."

But Bosch acknowledges it shares parts makers with rivals, such as electronics specialist EPCOS of Munich, which supplies piezo actuators to both Bosch and Siemens VDO Automotive.

A Delphi spokeswoman said the US supplier shares "several dozen if not hundreds" of common-rail system suppliers with rivals. She said Tier 2 parts makers invest too much to limit themselves to a single Tier 1 customer.

She said as long as each customer's confidentiality is protected, there is no problem.

Denso's Hungarian plant generated €180 million in sales last year.

Denso projects sales of €430 million by 2006. Denso used the same follow-the-leader tactic for other parts it needed in Hungary.

"Most of our suppliers have some experience with our competitors," Nagasaka said. Denso learned quickly that not using its rivals' suppliers was a bad idea. Added Nagasaka: "Some suppliers that have no business with our competitors have big quality problems."