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Outsourcing could turn Japan's way of making cars on its head

Workers assemble automobile components at Android Industries' plant in Warren, Michigan.

DETROIT -- Automakers in the U.S. are shaking up their industry by giving contract manufacturers an ever-larger role in building cars.

     Japanese carmakers have, up to now, cemented their competitive position by keeping production in-house, using just-in-time procurement to put, say, 30,000 components together and roll finished cars off the line at their own plants.

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