Australia’s Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) is warning that motorists are exposed to serious crash risks. As an example recent testing of non-genuine parts by GM-Holden engineers has revealed flaws as sub-standard materials are being used in imported bonnets. This could result in the bonnet of a VF Commodore suddenly flying up and slamming against the windscreen, leading to a loss of driver vision and control.

The non-genuine part tested by GM-Holden was sourced from a self-certifying parts manufacturing and importing operation contracted to major Australian insurers, and which distributes to collision repairers.

GM-Holden Engineering Group Manager Rowan Lal headed the test project and said, the non-genuine hoods [American for bonnets] tested are demonstrably inferior. Dangerous defects in the striker wire are present due to poor manufacturing processes and a hazardous lack of research and development on the materials used.”

The FCAI chief executive Tony Weber said consumers need to be aware that non-genuine parts are frequently used in vehicle repairs without customers being aware. Only by insisting on genuine can the consumer be assured that they are getting a part which is fit for purpose.

Weber continued, “This component test, together with the previous tests we have conducted and the seizures internationally of huge volumes of counterfeit, fake and non-genuine parts reveal the extent of the problem,” Mr Weber said.

“For instance, who knows how many thousands of these non-genuine bonnets, with their inferior quality materials and manufacturing processes, have been used already in repaired cars now driving on our roads? We urge consumers to ask their car insurer up front: Do you use genuine parts in repairs? And if not, why not?”

The FCAI has launched a “Genuine Is Best” website www.genuineisbest.com.au/report-a-counterfeit that enables consumers to submit details of parts they suspect may not be genuine.

Consumers who believe they have been sold or had their car fitted with a counterfeit part can report the details via the reporting hub.

This information will be provided to the Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) so that it may investigate any breaches of its intellectual property rights.

The OEM will then submit a formal notification to the Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection.

Recent international seizures have indicated the scope of the counterfeit parts problem, with raids in China and the Middle East unearthing large numbers sub-standard and often dangerous parts potentially headed for Australian shores.

The Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection is empowered under Federal legislation, specifically the Trade Marks Act 1995 or the Copyright Act 1968, to take action in respect of the alleged breach, which could include the seizure of the property.

Erin Dale, Commander Customs Compliance in the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, said, “The Department works in partnership with the automotive industry to prevent counterfeit car parts from crossing the Australian border.

“During the 2015-16 financial year we seized more than 190,000 individual items of counterfeit and pirated goods worth about $17 million.

“Programs that allow the Australian public to report counterfeit goods to brand owners may draw attention to counterfeit goods, so brand owners are in a position to advise the Department of suspected imports of counterfeit goods.

“The more information that the Department has on suspected counterfeit goods, the greater its ability to identify and intercept these goods,” Dale concluded.

About Ewan Kennedy

Ewan Kennedy, a long-time car enthusiast, was Technical Research Librarian with the NRMA from 1970 until 1985. He worked part-time as a freelance motoring journalist from 1977 until 1985, when he took a full-time position as Technical Editor with Modern Motor magazine. Late in 1987 he left to set up a full-time business as a freelance motoring journalist. Ewan is an associate member of the Society of Automotive Engineers - International. An economy driving expert, he set the Guinness World Record for the greatest distance travelled in a standard road vehicle on a single fuel fill. He lists his hobbies as stage acting, travelling, boating and reading.
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