The Australian Automotive Aftermarket Association (AAAA) declared the “fake wheel test” announced by the car industry on Monday 25 October a self-serving “stunt” designed to mislead and scare the public.
The fake wheel test promoted by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) on behalf of the car industry proves what we already knew – car companies are prepared to go to any lengths to scare the public into buying their so called ‘genuine parts’ at inflated margins.
AAAA Executive Director Stuart Charity said the FCAI test using non-compliant product sourced online, which failed after hitting a pot hole, was a deliberately misleading and self-serving exercise. “These wheels should not have been imported into the country – they do not meet Australian Standards and would never have been sold by any reputable Australian wheel retailer,” said Stuart Charity.
“The illegal wheels used in the FCAI stunt should never have passed through Australia’s border protection system. And those selling illegal wheels should be prosecuted under consumer protection laws.
“The FCAI stunt was simply a scare campaign funded by the car industry as an advertisement for high profit margin car makers’ branded products. Unfortunately, it was also an expose´ on how to buy imported illegal products that do not meet Australian Standards.
“A more appropriate message would have been to educate consumers to ‘buy product that meets Australian Standards and is ‘fit for purpose’. Another important consumer message is ‘don’t buy safety critical car parts online from unknown vendors’.
“Products purchased through reputable auto parts retailers – and that meet Australia’s Standards – are of the same quality, if not better, than car manufacturer branded product.
Aftermarket condemns sales of illegal products
“Unfortunately, the FCAI sends the wrong message in their recent stunt. They used the predictable outcome of their ‘test’ to try to attack the quality of aftermarket products with the claim ‘genuine is best’. This is a myth – a marketing tool.
“What the car industry failed to disclose is virtually all the car makers’ ‘genuine’ parts are not made in their own factories. Most suppliers to the car industry sell those same products under different brands through at least two channels – the car manufacturers’ dealership networks and car parts retailers.
“This fake wheel test was designed to promote fear and uncertainty in the minds of consumers. It also encourages them to pay for so called ‘genuine’ parts that come at a premium price.
“Of particular concern is the claim that this FCAI campaign is promoting road safety. The reality is this campaign is funded and directed by the car industry to support their own commercial interests.
“If the road safety motive was genuine, the test would have been conducted using a real world example relating to the average car owner. They should have selected a high volume car model and bought the products from any local tyre and wheel outlet.
Car company stunt lacks credibility
“It is hard to believe that anyone owning a late model Mercedes Benz would suddenly have a desire to remove the original wheels, buy a set of cheap wheels from an online store and then fit them to their premium car.
“This displays the car companies’ arrogance – they are wrong to assume car owners are that gullible. Their video might have made interesting viewing, but the test had no real world applicability. It only proved what we already knew – products that do not meet Australian standards are illegal and likely to fail.
“Also of grave concern is the attempt to denigrate the word ‘aftermarket’ when many of the car parts sold outside dealerships are produced by the same manufacturers that produce so called ‘genuine parts’.
“‘Aftermarket’ and ‘counterfeit’ products are not the same thing. The car companies should stop misleading the public with these stunts because this is not the way to build trust and respect with their customers.
“Instead of scaring the public with predictable stunts, the aftermarket industry focuses on selling high quality products that meet Australian Standards at competitive prices.
“Aftermarket products sourced through reputable suppliers are subject to Australian Consumer Laws and have the same warranty protections as the expensive car company branded products,” said Stuart Charity.