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The high performers in this industry are exceptionally lean and customer-centric enterprises. It boasts some of the great global brands, and the influence of its innovations is felt worldwide. Lean manufacturing, for example, which is now the process and supply chain mantra for a host of industries, originated in Japanese car plants. Yet the automotive industry was struggling to turn a profit even before the sharp economic downturn in the fourth quarter of 2008 and US automakers went hat in hand to Washington.
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