Leading original equipment (OE) suppliers have joined forces to stress the importance of fitting parts that genuinely match the quality and performance of the original components.
There may be cheaper alternatives on the market, but will they have the quality and reliability of the original?
The group received a positive feedback from independent garage and motor factor visitors to the recent MechanEx Show at Event City in Manchester where it exhibited examples of its OE parts alongside non-genuine alternative products currently available in the automotive aftermarket.
It also distributed leaflets explaining the reasons behind the campaign under the banner – “OE Suppliers. Our Quality. Your Reputation.”
The companies behind the campaign, who include NGK Spark Plugs (UK) Ltd, Schaeffler Automotive Aftermarket (UK) Ltd, KYB UK, MANN-FILTER, Remy, Sogefi, ZF Services UK Ltd and Banner Batteries, compare it to the recent consumer controversy over the discovery of horse meat in burgers and other food products.
The group says as consumers we are incensed by horse meat in burgers, yet do we really know what we are fitting to our cars?
OE suppliers invest £millions to develop new technologies for vehicles, but products are being sold in the UK automotive aftermarket under the coverall ‘matching quality’ banner.
The group says price shouldn’t be the main driver when fitting parts, saying that quality, reliability and safety should come first. OE components may cost a little more, but the investment guarantees the consumer peace of mind and allows installers – and consumers – to ‘fit and forget’.
In the current climate there is a race to the bottom in terms of price, but as OE suppliers the group says it has a responsibility to ensure the aftermarket is not damaged by a ‘dumbing down’ of quality standards.
When it comes to sourcing OE components, vehicle manufacturers trust suppliers who guarantee to use the best materials and processes to deliver products that will meet the exacting quality standards demanded of them, because nothing less will do.
Part of the problem comes with the term ‘matching quality’. Unfortunately, there are no strict rules or regulations to help define what is actually meant by suppliers who label their products with this sometimes misleading strapline.
However, the group says it can explain what it doesn’t mean:
- that the parts in question are actually OE and have been fitted to a new vehicle as original fitment components
- that they are manufacturer approved replacements. Many will not have been tested to the vehicle manufacturers’ required quality standards, and most will have merely been declared as ‘fit for purpose’ by the supplier
- that they are identical to the original part. Some components could be subject to design changes and alterations to make them suitable for multiple applications, rather than being an absolute like-for-like replacement for the part required.
The group plans to promote its campaign to the UK automotive aftermarket in a variety of ways over forthcoming months, including updates via its website at www.oe-suppliers.org