The seizure of a further 100,000 counterfeit car parts in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) demonstrates the scale and seriousness of the counterfeit problem, according to the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries' Genuine is Best initiative. The seizure included fake brake pads, head gasket kits and oil and air filters, with a total value of over A$2.7 million.
FCAI chief executive Tony Weber said the recovery of the dangerous fakes was especially disturbing at the conclusion of the Easter and ANZAC Day public holiday period.
"Eleven people died on Australian roads over the Easter break. The safety and fitness of the vehicles on Australian roads is our utmost priority and counterfeit parts are compromising the wellbeing of motorists," Weber said. "This is the second colossal seizure we have seen in the UAE this year. Counterfeits are often produced using inferior production techniques and inferior materials, and as a result are extremely dangerous."
The Genuine is Best campaign launched a counterfeit part reporting page on its website in early February with the support of the Department of Immigration and Border Protection.
"Millions of dollars' worth of counterfeit car parts seized over the past 12 months in warehouses from China to the Middle East have demonstrated the scale of this issue. It's an international trade that has been estimated to be worth US$20 billion a year," Weber said. "We have set up our reporting hub which has received reports of counterfeit spare parts. The relevant manufacturers are following this up. While public reporting will help curb the problem, there is no substitute for awareness. If you suspect a car part is a fake it probably is, and we urge you to report it."
The recent seizure came about following an in-depth investigation by Al-Futtaim Motors that traced the routes used by a Chinese trader, and involved coordination with legal partners and government authorities at Federal and State levels. Al-Futtaim is the exclusive distributor of Toyota, Lexus, Hino trucks and Toyota Material Handling equipment in the UAE.
Director of Nationwide Research Group Craig Douglas has 25 years' experience working with a number of Australian automotive brands to investigate counterfeit parts. Douglas believes Australia may be an end point for some of the counterfeits being shipped through the UAE, with further seizures in Africa in early 2017 indicating a global counterfeit conspiracy.
"Where are these all going? This is 600,000 car parts in less than three months," Douglas said. "The sheer volume of parts is too large for the UAE or African markets, and they aren't manufacturing the products in those countries," Douglas said.
"Counterfeiters are extremely cunning when importing these fake products. The differences in the packaging are minute and they have gone to a lot of trouble to replicate the appearance of genuine parts. The level of external replication is quite incredible. We are only catching them on spelling mistakes. We have to cut up the products to tell the difference."
The FCAI's Weber said motorists can avoid risk by choosing genuine.
"The only way to ensure you are protecting yourself, your family and your vehicle is to ensure genuine parts, acquired through the vehicle maker's authorised supply chain, are the only parts fitted to your car. Anything else is a risk. Genuine is always best."
Suspected counterfeit car parts can be reported at www.genuineisbest.com.au/report-a-counterfeit.