Stellantis Is Launching a Cheaper Parts Brand To Maintain Old Cars
The Bproauto parts brand is being launched in North America as Stellantis’ factory-endorsed aftermarket parts supplier. Such a brand relationship isn’t all that common, but it may be soon.
Stellantis, the automaker conglomerate formerly known as Fiat Chrysler, is introducing a factory-endorsed aftermarket parts brand to North America. In a sense, it's undercutting its own OEM parts catalog. As a big DIY guy, I find this very interesting. But even from a broader auto industry perspective, it's not insignificant.
When you're buying replacement parts to maintain an aging car, you've basically got three lanes to pick from: You can get OEM parts straight from the automaker (most expensive, but typically the best-made and best-fitting), you can go for a range of established aftermarket options (stuff that's consistently recommended on forums, stuff stocked by reputable auto parts stores), or you can fire up Amazon and get the cheapest version of what you're looking for in two days.
The savviest wrenchers can explore a fourth option: Hunting for the OEM part from the supplier rather than the automaker. For example, a Honda oxygen sensor is probably made by Denso, and you can sometimes get the OE part cheaper if you can find the Denso-labeled item at a wholesaler like RockAuto.
In my experience, you pretty much get what you pay for. I tend to pick my car part price point based on how critical the device is and how hard it is to replace. MAF sensor on the Civic I'm having professionally tuned? Yeah, I'll spring for the OEM part. Windshield washer pump I might activate a few times a year? Whatever, grab what's readily available on Prime shipping and save $40.
So circling back to the Stellantis news—automakers are obviously watching their industry with hawk eyes and can see that our nation's collective fleet of cars is aging and the aftermarket support business is likely to expand. Clearly, Stellantis also knows that not everybody driving old Challengers can stomach the high price of OEM parts. But it doesn't want to miss out on the money to be made from keeping old cars alive. Hell, if anybody knows about making money from keeping old cars alive, it's the maker of the Challenger and its ilk.
Anyway, enter Bproauto—a private-label replacement parts brand endorsed by Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram, and Fiat (and obtainable at dealerships) but slotted below the Mopar genuine OEM parts brand. This Bproauto parts brand has been around, but the North American market launch as Stellantis' factory-backed aftermarket option is new.
The press release describes the second-line brand as "high-quality aftermarket parts [that] cost less than original-equipment (OE) offerings." Some compromise must have been made somewhere, so naturally I'm curious to know "how much cheaper and why" but we'll have to wait until this stuff hits the market to really find out. I'm sure part of the equation is that Stellantis itself simply doesn't have the capacity to manufacture every part for every car it's made over the last few decades, which is one reason aftermarket parts brands exist in the first place.
Parts from Bproauto will come with a two-year warranty, and while the initial offerings are just simple consumables like filters and brakes, a pretty comprehensive catalog is coming soon.
I've had a hot take percolating in my head for a long time that automakers should quit making new cars and pivot entirely to maintaining the world's existing ones. This isn't that at all, but it is sort of a step in that direction, at least in the sense of an automaker clearly identifying and addressing the concept of expanding its tendrils deeper into the old-car maintenance space.
Every automaker offers OEM parts for at least some of its cars to mechanics and consumers, and there are a bunch of aftermarket companies making parts for a wide range of common cars. But it's not common to see an aftermarket company branded and established as officially endorsed by an automaker or offered for sale at dealership parts counters.
I bet we'll see a lot more of this in the years to come. Maybe not every automaker will publicly announce a lower-cost OE-equivalent parts sub-brand, but as cars continue to simultaneously get older and more complicated I would expect to see a lot more action from big players in the aftermarket space.