This year's Kinsey Report - the 20th - is the largest analysis of vehicle parts pricing ever undertaken in South Africa. The survey is designed to provide an overview of current parts pricing with the objective of helping the consumer to make an informed decision about the longer term cost of vehicle ownership.
There have been some changes since last year: there are now 34 items on the list, of which several more are crash parts. The breakdown for 2009 is eight service parts, nine repair parts and 17 crash parts. Though many new cars are sold with a service or maintenance plan, the relevance of this parts survey remains as significant as ever, as there are invariably exclusions and exceptions once the fine print is read, and a two-year/45 000 km - for example - might only last a year before the mileage threshold is reached and the owner is footing the bill for service and repairs.
Crash parts on the other hand, may be required within the first few kilometres of ownership. Even if the car is comprehensively insured, the cost of crash parts impacts on the owner. The insurance excess is often based on a percentage of the repair cost and the write-off point of a vehicle is usually about 75 to 80 percent of the trade value of the vehicle. So the lower the cost of crash parts, the more repair work can be done before this point is reached and as anyone who has had a vehicle written off knows, you seldom - if ever - walk away on the winning side.
Parts availability is another important factor to be taken into account when discussing accident damage. It might be a pessimistic outlook, but it's an important question to ask before you buy. Phone any reputable panel shop and ask how long it takes to complete a repair on the vehicle you contemplate buying. If the answer is in months, it puts pressure on your insurers to provide alternative transport while your vehicle is off the road. And you are going to be inconvenienced for a longer period than if crash parts are readily available.
In conclusion, it is apparent from this year's survey that the price of parts - and therefore the cost of ownership - is not coming down, making it likely that many cars will become a burden once the service or maintenance plan has run its course. Caveat Emptor and all that!
Thirty-four items on 44 vehicles in five broad categories have been examined in detail, including a new category, loosely called "Crossover" since the vehicles are neither strictly MPVs or SUVs. There are both "people" carriers and some soft 4x4's in this section and it is a segment of the market that has grown in size and variety in the past few years.
A very interesting feature of the results this year is that in all the car categories (excluding Crossover) the cars with the overall lowest parts basket cost also win when comparing the selling price to parts basket as a percentage. This has happened in some categories in the past, but never so overwhelmingly. Only the crossover category, which has a pretty varied collection of vehicles in it, bucks the trend completely.
As always the evergreen VW Citigolf takes top honours, due largely to the inexpensive crash parts prices which are almost half the cost of the next best, the Chevrolet Spark. The Spark is second to the Citi overall and on percentage, and has very impressive service and repair baskets - R914 and R2 790 respectively- both the best in the category. In third place overall is the Chery QQ 0.8, and a very close second place for service parts and not much behind the Spark in crash parts.
Tata has made strides in restructuring its parts pricing and is becoming more affordable. Their Indica takes fourth place with a basket price of R44 031, followed by the Daihatsu Charade (R48 692) and Hyundai i10 at R49 535.
The Sandero has taken over from the Clio as the leader in the Renault stable by convincingly winning this category. The first locally-produced Renault this century, the Sandero, is built in Nissan's Rosslyn plant and "local is lekker" shows in its pricing. It sweeps the board: first in basket price, percentage and the three sub-sections of service, repair and crash parts.
Second is the Hyundai Getz 1.4, due largely to competitive crash parts prices and the Fiat Grand Punto comes in a creditable third in parts basket price, right on the bumper of the Getz. Remaining cars in order of parts basket cost are: Kia Picanto R42 943; VW Polo 1.4 R43 159; Peugeot 207 1.4 R46 499; Chev Aveo R48 893; Toyota Yaris R51 620; Suzuki Swift R55 402; Citroen C2 R57 112; Mazda2 1.3 R66 576; Opel Corsa 1.4 R70 014
For the third year in a row the Nissan Tiida wins this segment by virtue of being the leader in all three sub-sections. Despite expensive glass (repeatedly checked with several dealers), it is still some R4 000 cheaper in crash parts than the second-placed Fiesta 1.6, a model which suggests Ford is striving to keep motoring costs as affordable as possible. The one exception is the fan belt, priced at a crushing R1 582. In third place is another member of the FMCSA stable: the Mazda3 1.6.
In this category the price of the crash parts mirrored the overall basket costs: Tiida, Fiesta, Mazda. The Alfa 147 had the fourth lowest parts basket at R60 089 despite a spark plug price of R348 - per pair. Since the Alfa uses eight 8 plugs (two per cylinder) it still adds up to a lot of money though they are expected to last 100 000 km.
The remaining cars in order of parts basket cost are: Honda Jazz R67 451; Toyota Corolla R68 209; VW Golf 6 R79 316; Subaru Impreza R83 454
This year we opted to look at automatic transmission versions of these family cars as the vast improvement in auto gearboxes - in terms of performance, smoothness and fuel economy - has resulted in an increase in sales. Road congestion may also be a factor!
Class winner is the Mazda6 , coming in lowest in both overall parts price basket and the percentage calculation. It also boasts the lowest repair cost and crash parts prices. Second is the Volvo S40 - the second least expensive in all three sub-sections, and an impressive result for what is often perceived as a very expensive vehicle. Third is SAGMJ Car of the Year winner for 2009 - the Honda Accord, its parts pricing as well thought-out as the overall design. The remaining cars are: Mercedes-Benz C200 R92 765; Lexus IS 250 R96 498; BMW 323i R103 237; Audi A4 R108 358.
The first three are all people carriers, or latter-day Mom's Taxis. Toyota's Avanza wins this new category thanks to the second cheapest service parts and the best repair and crash parts pricing. The Nissan Lavina is head to head with the Toyota with best service parts prices and second in repair and crash parts, and finishes second on overall part basket cost. Third is another Toyota: the Verso 1.6.
If using the parts basket cost as a percentage of retail price then the Toyota Rav4 wins, with the Honda CRV second. This calculation obviously favours the vehicles with the highest selling price. The remaining vehicles in order of overall parts basket prices are:
Suzuki SX4 R69 752; Toyota RAV 4 R79 456; Honda CRV R81 080; Chev Captiva R83 164; Nissan X-Trail R84 259; Subaru Forester R91 171; VW Tiguan R91 199; Mercedes-Benz B200 R99 586.