Toyota Australia has shut down the import and sale of fake Toyota-badged grilles, the company announced this week, as part of its long-running fight against counterfeit parts sales to service centres and the general public.
The part and panel distributor had been selling aftermarket versions of Toyota grilles that the carmaker claims “can be far worse than people realise as there is zero testing, no legal regulation and very little recourse for consumers if the part is ineffective or unsafe."
CarAdvice understands there may be an issue with the ribbing around the back of the counterfeit pieces that can lead to premature cracking and failure.
In a separate supporting press release, the FCAI – Australia's peak body for the automotive industry – adds that "in some forward-facing radar or stereo camera sensor applications, a fake grille could potentially interfere with critical systems."
Toyota adds there was also trademark infringement extending to its logo and classic 'TOYOTA' wordmark being replicated on the aftermarket early-generation 80 Series LandCruiser grilles – the only example offered by Toyota Australia in its announcement.
To its credit, the distributor had not attempted to represent the part as genuine, and no other Toyota branding was present on the part or its packaging.
The importer offers other parts, both genuine (albeit imported) and aftermarket, such as body panels and lights for brands like Toyota, Volkswagen, Fiat and more. Unlike the offending Toyota grille, however, none of these parts are stamped or badged with the relevant brand's logo.
"Toyota will act decisively whenever counterfeit parts are being sold to Australian consumers, and to prevent the use of forged Toyota packaging, markings and branding," Toyota Australia’s brand protection manager, Fabiola Dos Santos said.
"Consumers should not assume they are buying a genuine part, even if it comes in a branded box or has a Toyota label.
"The best way to avoid purchasing a counterfeit item is to buy Toyota Genuine parts and accessories directly from an authorised Toyota dealer.”
This development is the latest Toyota's fight against counterfeit products, with the seizure of Australia-bound counterfeit parts in a raid in China in 2016 and a stern warning to Australian workshops using counterfeit parts in 2008.
The parts distributor has since withdrawn the grilles from sale, offered refunds to purchasers, forfeited remaining stock and paid compensation to Toyota.