Al-Futtaim Motors estimates that 25 per cent of Toyota car parts in the UAE are counterfeit, highlighting a huge potential risk to drivers.
One in four Toyota spare parts is fake
DUBAI // Up to a quarter of all spare parts for Toyota cars in the UAE are counterfeit, potentially risking the lives of thousands of drivers.
Toyota is the most popular make of car in the country, selling about 100,000 cars each year and accounting for more than 40 per cent of new-car sales. Nearly 6,000 parts are imported each day through the Al-Futtaim Motors parts distribution centre in Dubai.
"As a percentage, we probably know that [counterfeits] are about 25 per cent of the parts sold in the UAE, which is huge," said Kevin Jones, the senior general manager for after sales at Al-Futtaim, the UAE's largest new-car distributor.
"It's a big problem because these are copied parts that are not made to any standard whatsoever.
"The danger is to consumers, because they are buying an unsafe part when they think they are buying a genuine part, and then they have an accident and someone gets killed."
Dubai Customs reported 10 cases of fake car parts being seized in the first quarter of this year, down from 30 in the same period last year and 35 in 2009. About 770,000 fake parts were seized, valued at about Dh6.5 million.
The number of traffic accidents caused by counterfeit parts is not recorded, but experts say faulty brake pads and tyres often cause fatalities. John Schneider-Merck, an agent for several brands of spare parts, said he knew of incidents in which fake brake pads had been fitted to cars.
Mr Jones said Al-Futtaim was backing a new Government campaign to ensure that any dealer selling car parts was authorised to do so by the car's manufacturer or its partner in the UAE. Any dealer with an unauthorised branded sign will have it removed.
"What the Government is trying to do now is that if you don't have approval from the brand custodian, then you cannot display on your shop frontage," Mr Jones said.
"So if the customer is walking into a parts dealer, they know if they are safe, or taking a risk."
Sharjah Chamber of Commerce will lead the campaign because the emirate has such a high proportion of the UAE’s spare-parts dealers.
Al-Futtaim itself is introducing branded signs and stickers for its 125 authorised dealers. Dubai and the rest of the UAE is a crucial battleground in the fight against all fake goods, including counterfeit car parts, because of its role as a major re-exporter.
After China it is the second-most common source of counterfeit goods in Europe. About 14.6 per cent of all fakes seized in the EU in 2009 came through the UAE, up from 12.3 per cent in 2008, according to the European Commission.