The peak body for Australia’s new-car distributors has commended insurance company IAG for opting to urge repairers to use manufacturer-specified, genuine new parts.
The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) has been railing against the proliferation of 'non-genuine' components for some time, citing tests that demonstrate the inferiority of some.
One major issue that the body has long cited in its battle — supported by major OEMs including Holden, Nissan and Mercedes-Benz — is the decision by some insurers to provide or encourage the use of aftermarket components.
People whose vehicles have been damaged have limited say in, or clarity over, what parts their cars are using. Given the complexity of modern cars, and the tolerances required by modern safety standards, it’s laid out as a major issue.
You may recall our recent story about Holden discovering dodgy bonnet latches supplied to unnamed collision repairers by a “self-certifying” parts and manufacturing operation with alleged ties to major Australian insurers.
This week, FCAI head Tony Weber commended IAG on its initiative and said all insurers should commit to following IAG's lead.
"This move by IAG sends a strong signal to consumers and to the insurance and motoring industries. Today, we are a step closer to safer roads, safer cars, better repairs and the best in quality parts for Australian drivers," he said.
"IAG is the first insurer to commit to encouraging smash repairers to use genuine parts, which is a massive step forward for the safety of Australian consumers.
"The writing is on the wall for Australian insurers. The evidence shows non-genuine is a risk, and as an industry we applaud IAG for pursuing this change in policy. Every Australian insurer should do the same.
"New genuine parts sourced from an automotive brand's authorised dealer are the safest, highest quality, most readily available, most efficient and easiest-to-use option for vehicle repairs.”
“The FCAI is calling for car owners to review their product disclosure statements and find out exactly what their insurer's policy is on genuine parts. If your insurer cares about your safety, genuine parts should be used in every vehicle repair,” Weber added.
Genuine parts are parts made or selected by the vehicle's maker and tested as an integral component of the vehicle to meet global standards, and ergo are approved and warranted by the vehicle's maker.
But there is a counterargument.
Naturally, the FCAI and the car brands it represents have financial interest in genuine OEM parts being used, though the argument that customers should receive like-for-like repairs is clearly a strong one.
However the FCAI’s Genuine is Best campaign has come under attack by the Australian Automotive Aftermarket Association (AAAA) in recent months.
In November, the AAAA said: “What are ‘genuine car parts? Are they really made by car companies? Does fitting independent aftermarket parts and accessories risk voiding your manufacturers’ warranty?”
One aspect of the AAAA’s work is to educate collision repairers on the importance of procuring parts manufactured by reputable suppliers.
In many cases, those suppliers are the manufacturer of the genuine part used in a vehicle’s production, but sold at a lower price through its own brand.
The obvious appeal of parts bought through other means, such as websites claiming to offer high-quality parts, is the even lower price than that offered by vehicle manufacturers and reputable suppliers.
At present, there is little policing of non-genuine parts, with insurers largely permitted to specify parts supply as it suits them – a course usually driven by price and competition – so long as they satisfy requirements laid out by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, and consumer guarantees demanded by the Australian Consumer Law.
One insurance company known to manage its own parts production is Suncorp Group, which works with an American component company to run ACM Parts, providing its own non-genuine parts for vehicle repairs.
The company says it ensures quality through a partnership with US parts testing organisation, NSF International, which uses certification protocols of its own design specific to Australian-market vehicles.