THERE’S a battle brewing in the spare parts business — one of the most profitable sides of the motor trade. Britain’s biggest car manufacturers, British Leyland, are to make a bid for a larger slice of the replacement parts market by selling a range of accessories and spares under the name Unipart.
A lot of smart operators in the trade are already cracking the spare parts “golden egg,” but some of the more unscrupulous don’t always give the motorist a fair deal.
Lamp bulbs made in Hong Kong cost garages and service stations much less than, say, Lucas bulbs, but they are sold at the same price. Gifts of transistor radios are often used to persuade retailers that imported spares are a worthwhile line. And similar gimmickery methods are often applied to push the sales of a great deal of imported electrical equipment.
With things like light bulbs and other electrical parts, you can at least see what you are getting. But often it is difficult for the motorist to know exactly what he is paying for. Take brake linings, for example. They are fitted to your car but they are something you rarely see.
Few motorists are probably aware of the names of more than a few brake lining manufacturers. yet there are over a score in business selling cut – price products. British Leyland chief Lord Stokes said of the Unipart venture: “Our immediate aim is to increase our share of the replacement parts used in the maintenance and repair of our own vehicles, which represents more than 40 per cent of all private cars. But we also intend to gain a larger part of the overall market in competitive parts.”
In other words, the company intend to sell parts, such as water hoses, radiators and so on, that will be suitable for almost any make of car. All the parts sold by British Leyland will be quality controlled and covered by a twelve month guarantee.