Where are the spare parts?

 Independent study finds that distributors in the independent aftermarket are unable to identify spare parts.


The European Association of Automotive Suppliers (CLEPA) and the International Federation of Independent Automotive Aftermarket Distributors (FIGIEFA) commissioned engineering consultancy Ricardo to develop and run an online survey. The objective was to gain an up-to-date view of the operation of the system of access to RMI, particularly regarding parts identification for the development of independent multi-banded spare parts catalogues. In the light of the European Commission’s proposal to revise the legal framework and consolidate all relevant repair- and maintenance regulations, Ricardo has carried out a comprehensive survey with independent aftermarket (IAM) participants involved in the provision of independent spare parts catalogues, repair and diagnostic support and spare parts programs.


In line with a study carried out by Ricardo for the European Commission in 2014 and the Commission’s report on the topic in 2016, the survey highlighted that an accurate parts identification is the most important feature for workshops when ordering spare parts, and access to complete and unequivocal parts identification information is needed to ensure fair competition.


According to the survey results, the inability to unequivocally identify spare parts continues to be an issue for parts distributors in the independent aftermarket. The respondents estimated that around 10% of parts (weighted average) among all their incoming orders during the past 12 months were not unequivocally identifiable. The accurate identification of parts/vehicles is however, by far the most important feature for their workshop clients when ordering spare parts. 85% of all respondents stated that they experienced multiple or wrong deliveries due to an insufficient or inadequate identification, which has led to an increase in the total cost of running the business of 11% on average.


There are two main reasons that were noted as being associated with the expected increase in the number of parts that cannot be unequivocally identified. Firstly, the processing of the data and therefore parts identification is expected to become more challenging due to increasing complexity of vehicles technology and electronics. The increased complexity is due to digitalisation, increase in vehicle models and equipment packages on the market, and fitment diversity. Secondly, respondents were concerned about the access to information on parts identification becoming increasingly difficult. They see this being caused by the fact that OEMs are not willing to openly share vehicle-related information and OE parts numbers in order to maintain a competitive advantage.


In summary, the survey highlighted that the most important factors to ensure the competitiveness of the IAM participants are thus:

  • Access to complete and unequivocal parts identification information
  • Information in machine-readable and electronically processable format
  • Information that includes full range of VINs (17-digit code) per OEM brand and all related


See the full report here.


    In: Aftermarket, Growth & Competitiveness
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