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Aftermarket moves up in the world

Exhibition: Chinese accessories and parts suppliers have a strong presence at the 2011 Australian Automotive Aftermarket Expo in Melbourne.

High-end parts and accessories help aftermarket industry achieve $850 mil in exports

General News logo13 May 2011

AUSTRALIA’S automotive replacement parts and accessories manufacturing industry is finding its feet in high value-added and niche components as Asian manufacturers – particularly Chinese companies – take over the mass market.

Australian Automotive Aftermarket Association executive director Stuart Charity told GoAuto at the Australian Automotive Aftermarket Expo in Melbourne that while the industry had been in decline in the face of imports, Australia still had 300 manufacturers of replacement parts, accessories and motorsport components generating exports valued at $850 million a year.

“The replacement parts side of things is really shifting to China, and manufacturers are turning into importers,” he said.

“In the specialty equipment area – in high performance and motorsport and four-wheel drive, where it is high innovation, high-value add, niche volume – the Australian industry is still very competitive in that space and we are exporting all around the world.

“In fact, we estimate that exports are at $850 million per annum of only aftermarket parts and accessories, and it is growing at 8.5 per cent per annum.

“We had 26 companies in a performance and racing show at Orlando last year. It was our biggest ever export mission to one of the homes of motorsport, and the Australian pavilion was the largest pavilion at that show.”

A similar Australian mission is planned for a show in Dubai this year.

Mr Charity said the industry was receiving support from Austrade and the Victorian and NSW governments for its overseas push, with Austrade providing a dedicated aftermarket representative in Chicago to help facilitate exports to North America.

He said products linked with Australian-specific niches, such as bullbars, roof racks, winches and rugged suspension parts, were in demand in export markets.

Chinese manufacturers were more interested in generic replacement parts and accessories with high volumes, while the Australian manufacturers could fill specific needs.

“It (Australian manufacturing) is in the area of high technical content where people are paying a premium for high performance and features rather than just on price,” he said.

Mr Charity gave the example of suspension parts-maker Pedder which he said had set up a highly successful network in the United States to sell its aftermarket shock absorbers and other parts for muscle cars such as the Australian-engineered Pontiac GTO and Chevrolet Camaro.

He said Australian motorsport component manufacturers were also enjoying success with high-end components, such as MoTec’s engine management electronics for race cars.

The Australian manufacturers and their overseas counterparts rubbed shoulders at this week’s Aftermarket Expo – the bi-annual industry trade show – sharing the Melbourne Exhibition Centre with the related Collision Repair Expo.

Chinese, Taiwanese, Thai and American exhibitors were among the 125 overseas companies to take space the trade show, making up more than a quarter of the record 430 displays across both expos.

By Thursday, show organisers had received 16,335 pre-registrations for the trade-only – event 70 per cent more than the previous show held in Sydney in 2009.

Mr Charity said he anticipated that more than 13,000 of the registered attendees would turn up over the weekend, smashing the attendance record of 10,700 set at the 2007 expo in Melbourne.

Among the visitors who flew in for the show were more than 200 New Zealand crash repairers.

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