Mercedes-Benz has hit back hard at the representative body for Australia’s aftermarket industry, which this week announced a plan to expose the “myth” that genuine factory parts are always best.
At the same time, Nissan Australia has separately come out swinging in a new bid to prosecute the case that genuine in-house parts are superior, and urge its buyers to use them for their own peace-of-mind.
The Australian Automotive Aftermarket Association (AAAA) this week announced the launch of an information campaign discussing “the truth about genuine parts”, in which it seeks to prosecute the case for the independent repairers and parts seller it represents.
“What are ‘genuine car parts? Are they really made by car companies? Does fitting independent aftermarket parts and accessories risk voiding your manufacturers’ warranty?” the AAAA said in a statement this week.
According to the peak body, research has shown these are questions many workshop technicians may find difficult to answer. In response, AAAA executive director Stuart Charity said:
“If the industry cannot answer these questions accurately, what hope do car owners have?”
Charity added that for many years, car companies have successfully promulgated the “myth” that you need to fit “genuine” parts sold by their dealerships, or risk voiding your manufacturers’ warranty.
“Most consumers are completely unaware that they have extensive statutory rights under Australian Consumer Law when buying a new car. Car companies cannot restrict these rights by forcing car owners to use their dealerships and branded parts when servicing their new car."
“The AAAA believes in free and open competition as the best way to ensure that all Australian car owners have access to affordable, high quality repairs and parts,” he said.
“To achieve this we must ensure that consumers have access to factual information, so they can exercise their statutory rights under Australian Consumer Law. To help deliver the facts to consumers, the AAAA has initiated an educational campaign for independent aftermarket workshop operators.”
The AAAA is distributing a brochure titled The Truth about Genuine Parts – A Workshop Guide to Dispelling the Myths, to provide workshops with definitions used to distinguish between different sources of parts in market, existing ACCC guidance on car parts, and an outline of “best practice” workshop procedures in relation to parts ordering workshop communication.
Previous initiatives along these lines include a push demanding car brands release repair data to third party suppliers, allowing them to remain relevant in an era where diagnosing problems with a car is more difficult, technical and software-based than ever.
Answering the AAAA’s bold statements this week, Mercedes-Benz Australia senior manager public relations, product and corporate communications David McCarthy — who fronted the recent ‘Genuine Is Best campaign’ conducted with the car brands’ peak body, the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries — hit back.
Mercedes-Benz, and a number of other car brands, naturally want buyers to source parts and repairs, as well as servicing, through their dealers (who make much of their profit in this area), which use official parts tested in-house, and are fitted by technicians with extensive, expensive and constantly updated training regimes.
“I’ve dealt with this issue in detail for more than 10 years, the arguments against our position are just as spurious and mythical as they’ve always been,” he conjectured, when discussing the prevalence of counterfeit or lower-grade parts being used, and non-official servicing being conducted.
Mercedes cites several reasons why it feels you should use official parts and servicing, beyond just the fact its technicians are highly trained at huge cost. Principally, complex parts such as active pedestrian-protecting bonnets are often less effective in aftermarket forms.
Additionally, Benz suggests that an airline would never use non-Boeing or Airbus parts and non-officials servicing, so why should cars be different?
“We believe we understand our products in a technical and a customer sense, and we invest in that. We do not use non-genuine parts nor do we fit them with non-trained people, and we don’t see why we should change that.
“No one understands a Mercedes-Benz better than Mercedes-Benz. We’re the specialists. They are not.”
Meanwhile, Nissan Australia has boldly asserted its support for the Genuine Is Best movement, this week showing the #23 NISMO Nissan Altima Supercar wearing a unique livery titled ‘Beware of Strangers’, the name of its new campaign to “inform consumers about the differences between using genuine and non-genuine parts in the maintenance and repair of their vehicles”.
“There are simple steps all vehicle owners can take to ensure their vehicle is safe and reliable,” said Nissan Australia managing director and CEO, Richard Emery.
“Whether you own, drive or operate a car, van or motorcycle, or even heavy plant equipment, the machine’s safety and reliability starts with genuine parts, components that come approved or recommended by the vehicle manufacturer.
“To ensure safety and quality, genuine parts are typically developed and tested as an integral part of the vehicle and non-genuine equivalents can’t necessarily give such an assurance,” he said.
What are your thoughts? Would you use non-genuine parts on your car, or service it somewhere other than a dealer?