New replacement auto body parts such as fenders, bumpers, hoods, lights, etc., if manufactured by a company other than the original car maker (Ford, Chrysler, etc.), are parts referred to as “aftermarket” or “non-OEM” or “generic” parts. Comparisons in the mechanical parts business would be aftermarket items such as Sears Die-Hard batteries, Monroe shocks and Midas mufflers as they are replacements to the original parts but not manufactured by original equipment manufacturers (OEM).

Prior to the early 80’s, the new car manufacturers enjoyed a virtual monopoly on the production and sale of replacement body parts; unencumbered by competition their pricing was extremely high, consumers and their auto insurers had no choice but to pay the monopolistic prices established by the manufacturer. In the mid 80’s, consumers were finally given an option when independent manufacturers began making auto body replacement parts. These new competitors priced their parts at a substantially lower cost than those charged by automobile manufacturers for original equipment manufactured (OEM) parts – in some cases, from 20% to 50% less. The auto manufacturing industry, which had controlled the collision replacement parts market since the days of the Model T, began waging a massive legal and public relations campaign to discourage the use of these “aftermarket parts.” Contrary to the competitive American marketplace, the auto makers went on attack by proclaiming all competitive parts inferior and unsafe, and predicting that they would ultimately reduce the value of any vehicle they were used on. Meanwhile, the cost of a hood, a simple piece of sheet metal, remained much higher than that of a complex piece of electronics such as a VCR.

Today, in spite of increased public acceptance of competitive parts, the auto manufacturers continue to oppose their use. They spend millions of dollars each year on media campaigns in an attempt to shore up their shrinking control of the market by convincing the public that competitive parts are inferior.

The truth, however, is evidenced in the statistics showing increases in the number of certified parts, their usage in auto repair, and the subsequent reduction in price of OEM parts in response to the presence of healthy competition. For example, an OEM fender for the Toyota Camry cost US$ 253 in 1992, before a comparable part was in production. By 1996, when the aftermarket fender was available for US$ 100, the price of the OEM Camry fender had dropped to US$ 143.88 – posing an interesting question – Would they reduce their price that much if they really believed that aftermarket parts were inferior?

Auto owners have seen price reductions as much as 40% or more, depending on the part and repair involved. In comparison, if a repair shop completely rebuilt a car entirely from OEM parts the cost would be nearly three times the original retail price. For example, an average Ford or GM car selling for US$ 14,000 on the showroom floor would cost more than US$ 40,000 if purchased by piece using OEM parts.

“Aftermarket body parts offered by Keystone are a high quality alternative to the much higher priced OEM Parts, finally giving consumers a competitive choice.”