A recent raid on a manufacturing facility in Guangzhou, China discovered thousands of counterfeit Toyota car parts destined for trade in Australia.
The 33,000 counterfeit Toyota car parts included brake components and airbags. While there are many "non-genuine" car parts, the counterfeit items claim to be the real deal. Apart from being sold in Toyota packaging, they even have counterfeit part numbers.
Last year, the car company went after two independent traders in Australia who were selling several counterfeit Toyota car parts.
An anonymous sale allowed the automaker to test the fake products and they found that the counterfeit items do not function properly. Some even contained prohibited manufacturing materials.
"What is very scary is that so many of the parts are safety related. Had the raid not taken place, those parts could have found their way to Australia, putting many innocent and unknowing Australians' safety at risk," said Toyota in a statement.
Insider information gathered from the 2015 Federal Court case led to the raid in China. Toyota Australia gave the Chinese police a tip-off that helped them get to the thousands of counterfeit car parts. They also discovered 55,000 fake boxes with the car company's logo all prepared for shipping to Australia.
The counterfeit products found included parts for popular Toyota car models including HiLux, Corolla, Yaris, RAV4 and Hiace. The total cost of the counterfeit car parts is believed to be $1 million.
The company's 220 dealers in Australia were quickly notified about the raid in China through a confidential bulletin.
The recent ordeal offers consumers a "clear reminder" that not all products that come with a branded box or label are genuine.
"The way to avoid safety concerns posed by fake parts is to ensure you or your repairer sources genuine replacement parts from the vehicle maker's authorised supply chain," said Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) chief Tony Weber.
Weber added that while the recent raid is "shocking," the event is not unusual. He stressed that going for counterfeit car parts, whether the customer is aware of it or not, means taking "a huge risk."
Photo: Yohann Legrand | Flickr