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Counterfeit vs. Alternative Parts

ABPA Encourages Consumers to Understand the Difference Between Counterfeit and Alternative Parts

Smithfield, RI, Jun. 9, 2014 — An article was recently published by Joshua Dowling (National Motoring Editor of the “News Corp Australia Network”) titled “New Safety Fears Over Counterfeit Parts”. In this article, Mr. Dowling brings up the important safety issue of counterfeit airbags and the danger they impose upon motorists across the world. For years this has been as issue and the Auto Body Parts Association (ABPA) is firmly in agreement with Mr. Dowling.

The concern we have with the article is the multiple use of the phrases “counterfeit parts” and “bogus parts”. There is a definitive difference between counterfeit parts and alternative parts and we feel obligated to be sure all parties understand the difference. Counterfeit parts are those parts manufactured and intentionally packaged to mislead the consumer into thinking they are buying a specific brand of parts although they are not such brand. Alternative parts are parts which have been designed and manufactured as a replacement part to the brand named parts providing the consumer a choice, usually at a substantial savings, to the brand name parts. Alternative parts are currently available with other vehicle components such as tires, batteries, shocks and brakes. It should be no different when considering collision parts.

In the US, alternative collision parts represent approximately 15% of the market and are endorsed by insurance companies, consumer groups and repair associations, as long as they are warranted for fit form and function. These parts are not “counterfeit” or “bogus” parts – they are legitimate alternatives to the monopolized car company service parts which save the motorist millions of dollars each year. In a recent study conducted by the Quality Parts Coalition (QPC), the top twenty CAPA certified collision parts sold in the USA between 2009-2014 saved approximately $80 million in collision repair costs. This incredible savings was based on only twenty parts; however there are thousands of certified parts available which ultimately save consumers millions of dollars on their insurance premiums.

In light of the car companies issuing recalls on millions of vehicles just in the past few months alone, it needs to be recognized that just because the car company used the part or manufactured the part, it does not ensure the safety, fit, form or function of the part. In fact it demonstrates that without competition, the car companies are allowed to produce parts with no third party oversight.

The ABPA endorses and urges the entire repair community to use certified collision parts when possible in all collision repair orders. There are multiple third party certification programs including CAPA, NSF and Thatcham. These organizations have spent considerable resources to evaluate and test the alternative parts against the car company parts and provide extensive vehicle testing to ensure it will achieve their relentless standards. In contrary, the car company parts are only held to the manufactures in house validation programs which can vary from supplier to supplier often being subcontracted numerous times through the supply chain.

About the ABPA: With more than 150 members, the Automotive Body Parts Association (ABPA) occupies over 400 distinctive locations including collision parts distribution centers, manufacturing facilities, and parts recycling plants. ABPA’s members are responsible for distributing more than 75 percent of the independently produced aftermarket crash replacement parts sold to the collision repair trade. For more information about the ABPA, visit autobpa.com.

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