In many industries, it is common for different brands to share the same product parts. For example, did you know that, up until 2020, Apple used Samsung and LG screens exclusively for their iPhones? The same happens in the vehicle parts department. If a car requires a replacement part, the chances are that you can take it from an entirely different make and model. But what cars share the same parts?
Cross-referencing car parts is essential in the aftermarket business, especially if you’re operating online. You want your customers to have the best possible experience and return to you for more purchases. Providing them with excellent compatibility information is a key step in good online auto parts store practice.
There is a fair bit you should know about car parts and their interchangeability.
Car Part Types
Before you dig deeper into the subject of interchangeable parts, there are two types of aftermarket parts you should be familiar with.
- OE Parts
OE means Original Equipment. These are genuine parts or the original parts of a car (the ones used for building it in the factory). OE parts are produced by the vehicle manufacturer and are relatively expensive. An example of this would be BMW OE parts – they come with BMW part numbers and BMW packaging.
- OEM Parts
In contrast, OEM parts are labeled as replacement parts. OEM stands for Original Equipment Manufacturer. These components have been approved for various vehicle brands even though the original automakers do not produce them. They are less expensive to obtain than OE parts but still of high quality.
To expand on our BMW example above, Thyssenkrupp is a company that produces suspension parts for BMW. They are a separate manufacturer but are an accredited BMW supplier, making their parts integral to BMW vehicles. OEMs can produce parts for not just one but several different vehicle brands.
What parts are interchangeable?
A short answer to the question of what parts of a car are interchangeable would be – all of them, in theory.
Developing a new vehicle is an expensive process, and car companies don’t shy away from cutting costs wherever they can. When designing a new car, reducing R&D costs and getting to market faster are important factors. It is not uncommon for different models of the same make to share the same engine. Some cars even share the same platform (design, engineering, and production guidelines) even if they don’t belong to the same carmaker. The BMW Z4 and Toyota GR Supra are prime examples of this.
Ford and Mazda had a manufacturing cooperation agreement that lasted about 20 years. The two companies shared platforms, chassis parts, engines, brake parts, and more. Ford also has a deal with Yamaha to make sub-assemblies and whole engines.
That being said, it is more common for vehicles to share smaller parts, such as taillights, door mirrors, and various interior components. You wouldn’t think so, but 20 different cars from 10 different car makers can have an identical fuel pump, brake pad, wheel bearing, door handle, shock absorber, and more.
Examples of Cars Sharing the Same Parts
To give you a glimpse of different manufacturers sharing the same parts, here is a brief list of some car models and the parts they share.
- Mercedes-Benz A180d uses the same engine as some Dacia and Nissan models.
- Alfa Romeo Giulia QV’s engine is developed in collaboration with Ferrari.
- Smart Fortwo has the same engine as Renault and Dacia cars. In fact, around 60% of the Smart components are the same as on Renault Twingo.
- Aston Martin Vantage and Mercedes-AMG share the same Biturbo engine.
- Toyota GT86 and Subaru BRZ have the same engine that Subaru developed.
- Nissan 300ZX and Lamborghini Diablo have the same headlights.
- Lancia Thesis and Morgan Aeromax share the design of their rear lights.
- Mazda 323 and Aston Martin DB7 also share the same taillights.
- Ford Mondeo (older models) and Noble M12 – same taillights.
- Vauxhall Cavalier and TVR Griffith – also same taillights.
- Mitsubishi 3000GT and Dodge Viper
- Citroen CX and Jaguar XJ220
- Lotus Esprit and Morris Marina
- Chevrolet Corvette C5 and Oldsmobile Aurora
It doesn’t matter whether it is a classic car, a sports car, or a luxury car – virtually all makes and models share parts with at least one other vehicle. This is true even for Tesla and their electric cars – their Model Y shares approximately 76% of parts with the Model 3. In this fast-paced industry where companies are rushing to get the product out to the consumers as soon as possible, there’s no time to put together a design made entirely of unique, never-before-used components.
What This Means for Online Retailers
This interchangeability in the auto industry greatly affects the aftermarket sector as well. If a customer has trouble finding a specific part for their vehicle, they will want to know whether they can find it in a different make or model. Having an online catalog that allows for easy and intuitive cross-referencing is essential for good business.
How you will go about this depends on which platform you’re selling on. Amazon and eBay Motors have their own cross-referencing tools and documents their sellers can use, but if you’re in charge of your own website and catalog, it’s a different story.
Your chief concern should be keeping in line with the ACES and PIES standards. If your catalog is current and regularly updated to reflect the changes in these standards, then you shouldn’t worry too much. ACES and PIES contain all the important fitment data you need to include in your catalogs:
- VIN (Vehicle Identification Number)
- Part Number, and more
If your database is properly connected, it should be simple for your customers to enter the information they have and get a list of vehicles that contain the same part they’re looking for.
To be absolutely sure that your online store doesn’t make any errors, you can always advise your customers to take the search results with a grain of salt. Instead, they can contact you directly to make sure they are getting the right component to fit their specific car.
Regardless of its type, no car doesn’t share a big or small part with a different car. This interchangeability often happens within different brand models, but it is not uncommon to see it even across different vehicle makers. Only so many part manufacturers supply several different car makers at once, and thus part sharing has become the norm.
In theory, all parts can be interchangeable. Some vehicles share the same platform (design, technological, and product specs), engines, and other significant components. Others share only the small things – side mirrors, door handles, filters, lights, and similar. It is not unheard of for a luxury car to share identical parts with a less expensive vehicle.
To ensure the best possible customer experience, online aftermarket retailers should incorporate a robust cross-referencing system into their online platforms. A potential customer should find the exact part they’re searching for by typing in the vehicle information they have in the search tool. If you need a catalog that will solve this seemingly daunting issue, don’t hesitate to reach out to Illumaware. Our years of experience in developing flexible online catalogs will definitely help your business flourish!