Club Ricambi (Ricambi is Italian for parts) is intended to help the carmaker increase its parts sales to a growing parc of older Fiat and Alfa Romeo vehicles whose owners have moved away from franchised servicing.
These customers are seen as increasingly important by many manufacturers: a recent study by aftermarket analysts Trend Tracker found that OE brands make up 48% of the replacement parts used by independent motor traders.
Fiat Auto UK already targets a database of about 22,000 independent motor traders at least 15 times a year and runs trade promotions on selected parts.
Independent repairers will be able to sign up Club Ricambi via their local Fiat or Alfa Romeo dealer and purchase parts below the standard trade price. Fiat is keeping details of the parts included and discounts available under wraps until the official launch later this month, but other manufacturers’ trade clubs typically give discounts of up to 25% off the usual price.
They commonly include regularly replaced service items such as filters, hoses, belts, brake parts and suspension parts.
Brian Taylor of Trend Tracker says: “Franchised dealers’ success at servicing older cars is variable, so independent garages have an important role to play if manufacturers want to increase sales of parts for cars aged four or more. Trade clubs allow manufacturers to focus more on the older parc and gives them some control over the marketing of their own parts by keeping them in touch with independents.”
Carmakers started to realise the potential of genuine parts clubs for the non-franchised sector in the late 1990s. They have recently put greater focus in these operations following the revisions to block exemption in 2003, which opened the aftermarket to greater competition from OE-matching quality parts.
Vauxhall leads the way with its trade club. More than a dozen carmakers now offer similar schemes, including Ford Parts Plus, Volkswagen Parts Club and Volvo Trade Team.