Got a question about China and the aftermarket? I’m your woman

Growing interest: In 2008 31k people visited Automechanika Shanghai – a 40% increase on 2007
In 2008 31k people visited Automechanika in Shanghai – a 40% increase on 2007

Do you have an ingrained tendency to recoil in horror at the mere mention of China in relation to the replacement parts market?

The country’s association with “white box” products or “Chinese copy parts” has, understandably, made a lot of legitimate traders in the UK view its exports with suspicion.

But although the association with counterfeit parts persists – only this summer Contitech successfully took one dodgy manufacturer there to task after it ripped off its belts – things are changing.

Already many of the biggest and most well respected parts suppliers are using Chinese factories or have opened their own manufacturing plants there.

Labour there is still relatively cheap (although wages are rising and thus becoming less competitive) and quality has improved dramatically – though you need to know where to find it.

China’s rise to global industrial super power was underlined this summer when it became the world’s largest automotive market with sales of 6.1m new cars in the first six months of the year – 1.3m more than in the US.

Sales forecasts of 11m vehicles by the end of 2009 would put the country’s motor industry 2m units ahead of 2007 figures. And this influx of new cars has created unprecedented demand for replacement parts and aftersales services.

Freedonia Group predicts that the aftermarket for light vehicle components in China will grow 17.9 percent annually through to 2011.

So what, if anything, does this all mean for the UK aftermarket and, ultimately, the companies working at the sharp end distributing installing and selling parts and accessories to the consumer?

In December, I’ll be putting my investigative hat on and jetting off to the fifth Automechanika exhibition in Shanghai to find out first hand.

It will be my first visit to China and, despite the fact that I’ll be spending more time on a plane and in an exhibition hall than out and about soaking up the sights and sounds of Shanghai, I’m really looking forward to it.

Yes I must confess that I am one of those strange people who actually enjoy airline food, although my experiences to date of exhibition hall fare have not been what you might call inspiring!

Can the Shanghai New International Expo centre rival the NEC in the sandwich stakes? After I’ve covered the serious stuff, I’ll report fully on this pressing question.

But my real mission in Shanghai is to seek out opportunities for (and indeed potential threats to) the UK independent aftermarket.

So if you have a question you would like to put to the trade out there or an issue you’d like to look in to,
I’m your woman.

You can get in touch by emailing me at, calling me on +44 (0) 208 267 5906 or even leaving a message on this post.

Published by emmabutcher

Emma has been CAT's editor since January 2008. There isn't much she doesn't know about the aftermarket - and her favourite topic is definitely BER!

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