AS well as a significant purchase and an important lifestyle choice, buying a vehicle is also a major responsibility. In a bid to raise awareness of the expense and dangers of buying fake auto parts, BMW Group Middle East is highlighting the long-term costs and potentially lethal consequences of counterfeit components. Making and distributing counterfeit parts is a big business operation which has a negative impact on economies, jobs and people’s lives.
As the popularity and demand for motor vehicles continues to grow, the market for fake parts increases and for many unsuspecting owners the prospect of a cheaper alternative may be tempting. But cutting costs may literally be cutting corners – and that could be fatal. Using counterfeit parts can also mean a marked dip in performance and a rapid decrease in resale value. In most cases, the short-term savings for the cheaper fake part option ends up costing the owner more.
Fitting illegal parts into a car is almost always a false economy. The cheaper, fake components will inevitably cause damage, needing a genuine replacement at the very least and possibly new parts for other areas that have been damaged. Original BMW spare parts are meticulously designed and engineered to align perfectly with each other and work in unison. An imposter element could throw everything out of kilter.
All BMW models operate under the most stringent quality control standards, making authorized importers the only reliable sources for replacements. The fake parts manufacturers however, manufacture components without regulations or responsibility. While the replicas may look authentic, much more effort is spent on the style than the substance. Despite their looks, these elements are low-tech and highly dangerous, with frequent cases of brake linings made of compressed grass, sawdust or cardboard, transmission fluid made of cheap, dyed oil and filters that use rags as their main component.
These ingredients are not only shocking, they are unsafe. The counterfeit auto part sector is valued at about US$ 12 billion a year, according to the US Federal Trade Commission and the Middle East makes up nearly $1 billion worth of those fakes but even more alarmingly, counterfeit parts in GCC countries account for just under a third of the total market. In 2015, the UAE’s Department of Economic Development conducted 26 raids in Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman and Umm Al Quwain,that led to the confiscation of Dh31.3 million worth of counterfeit parts – more than 220,000 products including engine oil, lubricants, air and fuel filters to brake discs and pads. In recent months, The Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development, destroyed 165,000 counterfeit and fake items seized during raids including auto parts as well as intellectual property works.
In Saudi Arabia, a study conducted by the customs department showed that the volume of fake parts in the local market had reached 45 percent, which contributed to the increase in number of traffic accidents caused by faulty brake. Commercial frauds, such as brakes made from sawdust and cardboard, covered as many as one million items. In Kuwait, the rising incidence of accidents has also been attributed to fake parts that have flooded the market, with rock-bottom price tags but no warranty.
While safety issues are the primary concern of those fighting the manufacture and distribution of illegal parts, such as Interpol, the Counterfeit Investigation Bureau and the International Anti-counterfeiting Coalition, there are also serious economic implications. The World Trade Organization estimates that up to 750,000 jobs in the auto industry have been lost as a result of counterfeit parts and the Middle East is playing a pivotal role.
Fake parts also have significant implications for the world around us. When performance is compromised, emission levels can increase and the giant strides made towards reducing any adverse effects on the environment may be negated. The manufacturers and independent dealers who sell imitation parts do not operate under any health, safety or environmental governance and their production methods can also be environmentally damaging. Sustainability is often a foreign concept and not one that features in the making and distribution of counterfeit vehicle parts. At BMW Group, not only is the industrial process streamlined and refined to maximize efficiency, nearly two-thirds or BMW spare parts can be re-used or recycled at the end of their lifetime.
On an individual level, the costs can also be severe for the owners. Using non-original parts not only leads to more repairs and the need for genuine replacements, it also nullifies the warranty. The end result of a counterfeit-cost-saving exercise could be a bill not just for a new part but the peripheral damage as well – none of which would be covered. There is also a steep rise in day to day expenses, with fuel consumption, tire wear and overall running costs – to name but a few – all increasing rapidly. The discount on fake parts will almost certainly result in significant extra costs in the long term as well.
Over decades, BMW has ensured that its parts are trustworthy, reliable and provide optimum performance. All BMW Original Parts come with a two-year manufacturer warranty. Precision engineering is at the heart of the brand and once again, a non-original part will affect the power and efficiency of one of the world’s best-known premium automotive brands.
The continuous added costs associated with counterfeit parts are matched, if not surpassed by depreciation. Using forgeries has a massive impact on the overall condition of the vehicle and the value drops dramatically.
The advice from BMW Group Middle East is simple: go to the experts and don’t buy a new part from any source other than an official dealership. — SG