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"Japanese Automobile Product Development in the 1990s: Capability-Building Competition by Front-Loading"(in Japanese)


  • Takahiro Fujimoto


This paper explores emerging trends in product development in some Japanese auto makers. After briefly summarizing the recent history of capability-building in automobile product development in the 1990s(e.g., the Western catch-up, fat design problem, design simplification, platform strategy, 3-dimensional CAD and CAE, exploration of clean engine technologies), the paper argues that prescriptions for the "1990s crisis" in various Japanese industries should differ depending upon types of industries in terms of potential international competitiveness and product architecture, and that the automobile industry, with a stable integral architecture for the time being, the basic principle of effective product development would be unchanged. As an example, the paper analyzes recent efforts of cutting lead times further by some Japanese firms, which is a combination of front-loading, overlapping and task partitioning. A common theme behind these methods for lead time reduction is, after all, "early and integrated problem solving" ---a principle that has also been found in effective automobile product development since the 1980s.

Suggested Citation

  • Takahiro Fujimoto, 1997. ""Japanese Automobile Product Development in the 1990s: Capability-Building Competition by Front-Loading"(in Japanese)," CIRJE J-Series 97-J-15, CIRJE, Faculty of Economics, University of Tokyo.
  • Handle: RePEc:tky:jseres:97j15

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