The financial crisis that had most of the world in its grip by the end of 2008 is now being reflected in the Brazilian spare parts market.
During the crisis, some investments were halted, workers laid off, and suppliers’ orders for raw materials cancelled.
Yet in 2009 new car sales started to rise thanks to fiscal incentives. In 2010, this time without tax breaks, the market nonetheless grew pretty quickly, breaking all production and sales records.
As a result there was a supplier rush to meet assembly line demand and, in the last few months, cars began staying too long at dealers and independent repair shops waiting for components.
In some cases, delays are as long as three months. Some repairers are complaining they are refusing service because there is no more room left to store vehicles, such is the number of cars out of use waiting for parts.
Insurance companies are also concerned. High turnaround parts like wings, bonnet, doors and bumpers, plus items such as head and tail lamps, and suspension parts, are not easily available.
Auto and parts makers deny the reported problems.
The situation is not the same for all automakers. GM, for example, has a manufacturing plant in Mogi das Cruzes, in the Greater São Paulo area, which is dedicated to stamping body parts for vehicle models no longer being made new.
On the other hand, Anfape, a rival of auto parts makers union Sindipeças, blamed the parts shortage on 'misconduct' by Fiat, Ford and Volkswagen.
It's an age-old scrap not confined to Brazil. There is ongoing court action because the three automakers claim intellectual property rights on the design of parts in their vehicles and built-in quality. Therefore, they blocked independent companies from copying, manufacturing and marketing parts deemed similar.
For the time being, the big Brazilian automakers have won their case at first judicial level. But Anfape is insisting on continuing the action by arguing that, in Europe, similar automaker claims were dismissed in favour of free competition.