Cheaper car parts in France from 2023 as law ends monopoly

Car trade bodies have welcomed the change which partially removes restrictions -  which they say do not exist in neighbouring countries - on sales of headlights and mirrors among other parts

19 August 2021
By Brian McCulloch

Exterior car components in France could be up to 30% cheaper from 2023 as a measure partially removing from car makers a monopoly on supplying many parts passes into law.

The move has been asked for by trade bodies and drivers’ associations for decades and will now become a reality after top constitutional authority the Conseil constititutionnel validated a new climate law, including the measure which was introduced as an amendment by senators. 

It is expected to take effect in January 2023.

Supporters of the change claim France has some of the highest prices for replacement car parts in the world as a result of the monopoly, originally introduced in the 1970s after a series of accidents blamed on cheap replacement parts failing at high speed.

Body work, glass, headlights and mirrors are the parts where makers have had a monopoly – the parts most often replaced after accidents.

“This is excellent news and we expect that there will be savings of 30% on parts,” Mathieu Séguran of the Féderation des Syndicats de la Distribution Automobile told The Connexion.

FSDA is the trade body representing mainly independent garages and parts distributors.

He said price reductions could even be greater if the government completely removed monopoly rights.

Under the new law, glass will be removed from the monopoly from 2023, however for other parts concerned only ‘first level’ car part makers, those who supply car makers directly, will from that date have the right to sell all parts to the public themselves.

Other manufacturers have to wait for a 10-year period to pass since the part was first registered in France, which is usually when a new car model is introduced.

With models usually being changed every three to five years, it means that only older cars will benefit fully.

“Even with the change, France is still an exception in Europe and we will be fighting in Brussels to try and ensure there is greater EU harmonisation,” said Mr Séguran.

He said that the law will ensure that manufacturers continue to honour guarantees if parts from outside their network are used.

He added he was confident that parts makers would put parts directly on to the market, even though this might upset the manufacturers who are their main clients.

“The 2023 implementation date means they will be able to get used to the idea,”  he said.

Research by the FSDA showed prices of car parts affected by the monopoly had risen by 11% in the last three years.

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