The Good News
While competitive crash parts and CAPA have been the focus of many articles in the trade press, there’s lots of news about CAPA that hasn’t been reported. Thanks to the efforts of hundreds of people, representing many industry segments, who’ve made the decision to focus on quality, there’s lots of good news about CAPA. Here are some of the things that have had a very positive impact on the marketplace and consumers. If you’ve been part of the vast and varied team that has been working to help ensure quality competition, these are some of the fruits of your labor:
- Today’s competitive parts, especially those achieving CAPA Certification, are substantially improved over parts of 15, 10, and even 2 years ago — primarily due to CAPA’s presence in the factories that make the parts.
- CAPA standards and procedures have provided 24 manufacturers in the U.S., Canada, and Asia with a clear blueprint for quality standards.
The CAPA seal provides all participants in the market with a way to:
- Identify the best quality competitive parts.
- CAPA parts are increasingly the parts of choice among collision repairers looking to reduce repair costs. (In 1998, collision repairers used 60% more certified parts than 1997—3.6 million in all!)
- The presence of CAPA in the market ensures that an independent third party, who is not part of the purchase process and accountable to all, provides all parties with an indication of quality.
- CAPA provides the collision repair industry with the ability to help ensure that the parts they use meet the basic material, content and performance criteria that are impossible to discern simply by observation.
- CAPA provides insurance companies with a means to reduce crash repair costs without sacrificing quality.
- CAPA provides part distributors with a benchmark to measure their vendors and a specific standard of quality on which they can insist.
- CAPA provides manufacturers with the training and quality procedures necessary to produce a quality part as well as a means to demonstrate to their customers that they believe in quality.
- CAPA provides the consumer with a choice—an alternative to more expensive car company parts without having to compromise quality.
- Consumer Reports, in spite of their sensational headlines, had this to say in its recommendation to consumers:
- “We support the goals of CAPA.”
- “We applaud the changes they are making in the program.”
- “We suggest that CAPA expand its program to cover bumpers.”
So there’s lots of good news in the crash parts marketplace. At CAPA, our goal is to use our solid foundation to continue to build the best program possible. We look forward to the support of the entire industry in accomplishing this objective.
|Did You Know?-1|
|In 1998, collision repairers used 60% more CAPA parts than in 1997 — 3.6 million in all!|
|CAPA has certification standards for virtually every plastic body and trim part, but very few parts are CAPA certified.|
CAPA – It’s the Right Thing!
One of the easiest things that anyone can do is sit back and criticize. Thankfully for consumers and quality competitive parts, there have been many in various segments of the industry who have done much more than criticize—they’ve taken specific action to improve quality.
Sometimes it’s a small effort, other times it’s a big effort. The point is, it’s simply much harder to make a positive contribution to the solution of a problem than it is to sit back and criticize. CAPA is where it is today because thousands of individuals and companies have taken small and large steps to ensure a high quality, competitive marketplace.
So who’s been making these contributions?
- It’s the collision repairers who look for the CAPA seal before accepting a competitive part.
- It’s the part distributor who actively responds to complaints about CAPA parts.
- It’s the manufacturers who are investing thousands of dollars in quality improvements.
- It’s the insurance company who spent millions of dollars on the decision to use only CAPA or car company parts.
- It’s the individual repairers who, exhausted from a day’s work, took the time to fill out a complaint form.
- It’s the trained CAPA inspector who noticed certain flaws and decertified the lot rather than let it go.
- It’s the aggressive trade press reporter who held CAPA publicly accountable for its stated quality.
- It’s the courageous collision repairer who took a risk in front of colleagues and said, “I’m not 100% happy with competitive part quality, but I’m willing to help CAPA make a difference.”
- It’s the insurance industry executive who, in the face of adversity decided to work on improving quality rather than giving up.
- It’s the CAPA staff members who, facing unending and seemingly unfair attacks, steadfastly redouble their efforts to see CAPA through the storm.
Are We There Yet?
This all too familiar refrain heard by millions of parents, is a question that CAPA regularly asks itself. The answer—no, we’re not. In fact, it is our belief that no manufacturer or manufacturing process is perfect and the road to quality is a journey, not a destination. In other words, to even say, “we’re there,” means we’re really not doing our jobs.
Are we where we want to be? Well, yes and no. Yes, in that we have an excellent set of standards that, if fully complied with by voluntary participants, will go a long way to ensuring a high quality competitive part. No, in that there are improvements that manufacturers can make in complying with the standards and there are improvements we can make in administering the program.
To help us on our journey CAPA places a high priority on outside advice. Six years ago CAPA shocked many in the industry by convening, for the first time, the key players in the formula for success. In Chicago, 1993, we put nearly 100 repairers, insurers, distributors and manufacturers in the same room, broke up into small groups and started a series of discussions that continue to this day. What was particularly rewarding was that we started to break down communication barriers that had existed for years and were the source of tremendous adversity.
Our groundbreaking Inter-Industry Communications Forum has now met over 10 times during the past 6 years. At each meeting two things always happen: channels of communication are opened between parties and CAPA learns something from the participants that helps us to improve our efforts.
A few of the changes in the program that came from the IICF meeting include:
- A more effective complaint program
- Communication of part availability problems to the manufacturers
- Vehicle Test Fits
- CAPA Total Quality Manufacturer Program [CTQM] (Discontinued as more manufacturers became ISO/QS certified.)
- Re-evaluation of appearance standards
- Recall Program
Today, the IICF continues to offer the industry with a sounding board to express concerns about the competitive parts industry in general and CAPA specifically. At CAPA, we know we don’t have all the answers. As such, we spend considerable time, effort and expense ensuring that those who care about part quality have an open door to suggesting changes and improvements to the CAPA program.
What’s most rewarding is that while CAPA is often criticized for its partial dependence on insurance funding, it has really been collision repairers and parts distributors who have had the most influential role in shaping CAPA policy.
|“While CAPA is often criticized for its partial dependence on insurance funding, it has really been collision repairers and parts distributors who have had the most influential role in shaping CAPA policy.”|
PRIDE: We’re a Proud Supporter
Let’s face it; collision repairers get a bum rap. The fact is, bringing a car back to life from a crash is a very difficult task. It’s not like replacing mechanical parts. In fact, it’s almost an art form requiring skill, knowledge and a special sense of design. Many of us could replace a spark plug or an air filter, or maybe even an alternator if we had to — but replace a crushed fender, straighten a frame and put it all back together and paint it to match? Unlikely.
On the other hand, a talented collision repair technician can make a car as good as new. And that’s no easy task. It requires special expertise, years of experience, sophisticated tools and the ability to keep pace with a rapidly changing repair environment. So it’s not fair that repairers get such a bum rap and a new organization, PRIDE, is out to change their image. Collision repairers have much to be proud of and that’s why CAPA is one of the sponsoring members of NABC.
|Did You Know?|
|Manufacturers of competitive parts estimate that it costs 50% – 70% more to develop a part that meets CAPA standards than one that doesn’t.|
|It takes anywhere from 2 to 6 months to complete the required battery of testing for a single new CAPA part.|
For more information, contact the National Auto Body Council at:
41005 W. Huron River Drive
Belleville, MI 48111
Or visit their web site at www.collision-insight.com/assoc/pride.htm.
What’s in a Name?
It is often said that one of the sweetest sounds to a person’s ear is the sound of his or her name. When it comes to crash parts made by someone other than a car company there are lots of names used. Unfortunately, many of these do more to describe the users’ attitude toward the part than the part itself. Here’s some of the names we’ve heard to describe the competition to car company parts:
Each of these names carries some negative implications so, as you can imagine, we don’t particularly like them because they don’t accurately describe CAPA parts.
In order to give non-car company parts a fair shake in the marketplace of perception, we call the alternative to car company parts, competitive parts. Competition is a positive term that best describes what these parts offer.
If you’re part of the growing, diverse and varied industry segment that is looking for solutions to quality problems in the market, we suggest you join us in encouraging the use of the term “competitive” to describe non-car company parts. And remember, when it comes to competitive parts, you have two choices: parts that meet CAPA’s quality standards and parts that don’t.
|Did You Know?|
|Since 1988, over 15,000,000 CAPA parts have been used by collision repairers!
Functionally Equivalent? LKQ? Similar? Equal?
At CAPA, we’re often asked to describe how certified parts compare to car company parts. The term we use is “functionally equivalent.” We chose this term because we think it best describes how CAPA parts relate to the car company parts they are designed to replace. Simply put, CAPA certified parts should perform the same as car company parts in every significant aspect. This includes fit, finish, strength, material content, corrosion protection and more. We believe that the use of a part meeting CAPA standards should be invisible to both the repairer and consumer.
The term “functionally equivalent” is not used to hide, cover-up, or disguise our intent to provide a quality alternative to car company parts. Instead, it’s a description that serves as a public acknowledgement of our goal and a standard for which we believe we should be held accountable. So the next time you hear us say “functionally equivalent” don’t think of it as a disguise — but as a public promise of equality.
Certified Parts by Manufacturer
In this increasingly competitive marketplace, quality has become a key component in how a company presents itself. Manufacturers participating in the CAPA program are no different. For them, quality is not only a stated purpose, but also an expensive investment. Many in the marketplace would like to see all crash parts meeting CAPA’s high quality standards. We, too, see that as an important goal. But it just won’t happen overnight.
Here’s how the manufacturers currently stack up in terms of the percent of parts they offer that meet CAPA standards. (Note: This only includes certifiable parts and is based on unique parts offered to the marketplace. The percentages reflect data available from manufacturers as of March 1999 but may not be the latest data. An asterisk (*) indicates earlier data.)
|CAPA Metal Manufacturers||% of Product Certified|
|(Metal Manufacturer Average)||46%|
|Auto Parts Industrial||44%|
|Gin Ho Lian||37%|
|Tong Yang Metals||35%|
|Chung Fu Ching||n/a|
|CAPA Plastic Manufacturers||% of Product Certified|
|(Plastic Manufacturer Average)||69%|
|AutoLign (formerly the Colonels)||*49%|
|Tong Yang Plastics||n/a|
Car Companies Cut Prices on Crash Parts
Nissan reduced the price of certain grilles, front bumper fascias and reinforcements for both Nissan and Inifiniti vehicles by as much as 40%. “The move is designed to enable the collision repair shops and dealers to purchase genuine Nissan parts at prices competitive with those of aftermarket parts.” (ABRN On Line May 98)
Ford Cuts Bumper Fascia Prices Again ” The new list prices average 7.2% below previous list prices and apply to the 41 bumper fascias…Ford launched the program to increase its competitiveness in the bumper fascia parts segment.” (Ford Press Release)
Toyota: “To improve customer satisfaction and reduce the cost of vehicle ownership, Toyota has reduced the prices of the 70 most frequently replaced crash parts by an average of 20%.” (Toyota Press Release)
|Did You Know?|
|Car Company parts prices react to competition. Here’s what happened to a Toyota Camry fender:|
Lots Decertified at the Factory
Our inspectors check 80% of the certified part lots manufactured.
One of our goals is to make sure parts that don’t meet our standards never leave the factory with a CAPA seal. Here’s a snapshot of the number of part lots we’ve decertified at the factory.
You won’t see these parts in the market with a CAPA Seal.
CAPA in the Marketplace
The CAPA seal is the keystone of the certification program. Each and every certified part has a separate seal with a unique number. As a primary source of funding for the program, manufacturers purchase these seals from CAPA at a cost of $.75 each. The table below shows the number of seals sold to manufacturers in ’97 and ’98 as well as our projections for ’99. This is a good indicator of the number of parts used in the marketplace.
Vehicle Test Fit Program
In response to marketplace demand for continued quality improvements, CAPA has instituted a Vehicle Test Fit (VTF) program. As of March 1, 1999 all parts presented for certification must pass a VTF. This is in addition to the battery of fit, finish, material and performance tests that are already required for each part. In addition, all parts receiving five complaints in a 12-month period must undergo a VTF. These vehicle test fits will be performed at Entela, CAPA’s independent validator, in Grand Rapids, MI. They will be performed on undamaged vehicles by a certified collision repair technician and open to the public. If you would like to observe a VTF, contact CAPA.
The VTF program is the type of program enhancement that CAPA makes on a regular basis. If quality problems exist in the market, our goal is to develop solutions.