Chinese Imports and their Impact on the Spare Auto Parts Market in Mexico
Lourdes Álvarez and Liliana Cuadros
Results from a survey to spare parts companies

The opinions of owners and employees of spare parts companies with regard to Chinese auto parts and the way they impact the spare parts market in Mexico was obtained through a survey. Specifically, we were interested in learning more about the problems confronted by these companies, and understanding the supply of Chinese auto parts. Based on information obtained through secondary sources and the interviews with experts, a questionnaire was developed, including nine open questions associated with our specific objectives, to be applied by telephone. The population consisted of 304 companies included in the directory of the National Association of Representatives of Importers and Distributors of Spare Auto Parts and Accessories (Asociación Nacional de Representantes de Importadores y Distribuidores de Refacciones y Accesorios para automóviles, a.c.aridra) located in Mexico City. From that population, a sample of 56 companies was randomly selected, and the questionnaire was applied on two occasions, first in 2009, and then in September 2011. On the second occasion, 18 of the spare parts companies included in the first survey were not located, and were replaced with other companies selected in the same way.

The change in perception discovered in the questionnaire results can be summarized as follows: there is a 10% increase in the sale of Chinese auto parts; and there is a decrease in the number of people who think these parts are low-priced and of low quality. A concept of “imported brand name parts” appeared, referring to auto parts imported from other countries by multinational corporations who operate in those countries, and such parts are viewed as being of good quality.

With the data obtained, it can be observed that in 2009 only 54% of the companies sold Chinese auto parts, while in 2011 this figure increased to 64.2%. Motor and electric parts were those most sold on both occasions: those mentioned were suspensions, accessories, water intakes, fenders, filters, trunks, ball-and-socket joints, regulators, bearings and crosspieces.

Those interviewed stated that they viewed Chinese auto parts as low quality (78%), and low priced in comparison with Mexican parts, but in 2011 only 65.6% said they were of low quality.9 This means that opinions regarding Chinese auto parts have improved slightly. Also, those interviewed characterized auto parts of brands like Bosch that come from China as good, and said they have a guarantee like those made in Mexico by the same manufacturer (Table 5).

9 When the first three parameters in Table 6 are added up.