Software and stealth: how carmakers hike spare parts prices

    LONDON/PARIS (Reuters) – Carmakers together with Renault, Jaguar Land Rover and Peugeot have boosted revenues by over $1 billion prior to now decade through the use of refined pricing software program, based on gross sales shows ready by the software program vendor, Accenture, and different paperwork filed in a courtroom case.

    FILE PHOTO: Automobiles are seen at a Dongfeng Peugeot Citroen manufacturing facility earlier than it begins up manufacturing in Chengdu, Sichuan province, China, September 6, 2016. China Day by day/through REUTERS/File Picture

    The software program works, Accenture advised potential purchasers, by figuring out which spare elements in a producer’s vary clients could be content material to pay extra for, how a lot to boost costs by and which costs shouldn’t be hiked.

    The latter would come with, for instance, radiators and physique elements that will characteristic in French automotive insurer group SRA’s basket of elements that measures them for inflation, based on a courtroom submitting by the software program creator, Laurent Boutboul.

    Paperwork referring to the case have been obtained by French information web site Mediapart and shared with Reuters and EIC, a community of European investigative information retailers.

    The shopper shows and courtroom complaints seen by Reuters cowl the interval 2009 to 2015.

    Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) acknowledged nonetheless utilizing the Partneo software program however Reuters was unable to find out which different automobile makers, if any, at the moment use it.

    Accenture denied its software program was unfair to motorists and stated its focus was on growing purchasers’ effectivity.

    “Options of this kind, which allow corporations to evaluate and handle their merchandise, are commonplace throughout industries. They assist corporations analyze spare half visibility and availability,” it stated in an announcement.

    Boutboul is claiming 33 million euros from Accenture over what he says is injury to his popularity as a result of Accenture broke European competitors guidelines. 

    He says it did this through the use of personal data taken from Renault to assist configure the pricing techniques it arrange for PSA and doubtlessly different producers. His lawsuit didn’t specify the precise data.

    Boutboul’s lawyer stated Boutboul couldn’t touch upon the small print of an ongoing authorized motion. Accenture stated it rejected his claims.

    Renault, Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) and Peugeot stated their pricing methods for spare elements have been authorized, didn’t benefit from automobile homeowners and have been centered on effectivity and making certain availability for motorists.

    Peugeot stated in an announcement its substitute elements technique “consists in providing ranges of spare elements that meet the wants of all clients, no matter their price range, on the highest degree of reliability and security.” 

    Renault stated it “strives to supply its clients with all kinds of high quality spare elements, the value of which is calculated primarily based on parameters that Renault considers truthful and equitable”.   

    JLR stated it used Partneo to “ship consistency in pricing throughout our spare elements vary to make sure that we’re appropriately priced towards our competitors”.

    France’s competitors regulator stated it had examined the software program and didn’t see a motive to open a full anti-trust investigation, with out explaining its considering.

    Renault stated it was unaware of any of its personal pricing data being shared with different carmakers. PSA stated it rejected Boutboul’s accusations, however didn’t reply detailed questions on how its software program was configured.

    Accenture stated its pricing software program, referred to as Partneo “doesn’t share confidential or delicate knowledge between purchasers”.


    Up to now 20 years, pricing software program has turn into extensively used.

    Aaron Roth, Affiliate Professor of Pc and Data Science on the College of Pennsylvania, stated utilizing software program to attempt to establish the very best costs folks have been keen to pay was merely an extension of long-established follow amongst producers and retailers.

    “Already, costs for merchandise are set making an attempt to maximise earnings,” he stated.

    In a 2013 presentation to BMW, Accenture claimed its software program had, on common, allowed purchasers to extend elements costs by 15 p.c.

    However the really useful will increase diverse extensively from product to product. Accenture really useful in shows seen by Reuters to 6 purchasers, together with PSA, Honda and Volvo, that costs of many substitute elements must be doubled.

    An October 2013 presentation to carmaker Volvo stated that the software program had led to “yearly positive aspects achieved” at seven automobile and truck makers of a mixed $415 million a yr.

    Volvo stated it didn’t use Partneo however declined to touch upon the presentation. PSA declined to touch upon whether or not or how a lot it elevated costs. Honda didn’t reply to a request for remark.

    Accenture stated in its shows that Partneo depends on a “perceived worth pricing methodology”.

    Whereas producers typically search a selected margin on elements, the software program makes an attempt to establish these elements for which customers could be completely happy to pay above the standard mark-up.

    It chosen these primarily based on a product showing to a automobile purchaser to be extra useful or costly to supply, shopper shows present.

    Accenture famous in a 2009 presentation to France’s PSA that buyer perceptions of the intrinsic worth of an element are sometimes primarily based on components like dimension, weight, and materials of an merchandise like a shiny model badge or a cog.

    In a single presentation to Mitsubishi, it recommended the Japanese carmaker raise the value of a silvery mannequin badge from 14.42 euros to 87.49 euros, a rise of 507 p.c. Mitsubishi declined to touch upon whether or not it used the software program or elevated its costs.

    The automobile elements enterprise has lengthy been extremely worthwhile, business analysts say.

    Whereas producers wrestle to make a revenue margin of greater than 10 p.c when promoting a car, “spare elements gross margin can go as much as 90 p.c,” Accenture stated in a presentation for BMW’s South African arm in 2013.

    BMW stated it determined to not use Partneo however declined to elaborate additional.


    Though the marketplace for new automobiles is very clear and aggressive, the marketplace for spare elements is much less liquid and clear, partly as a result of some parts will be protected by emblems or patents, analysts say.

    Automobile producers have lengthy been accused by insurers and motoring teams from Australia to the USA of charging an excessive amount of for spare elements.

    Partneo primarily focuses on growing elements costs primarily based on their look however it additionally has a characteristic that tries to keep away from potential insurer response to cost will increase of sure objects.

    The software program categorizes parts as these “with or with out third occasion pricing supervision” — costs monitored by specialist publications or insurers — based on three shopper shows seen by Reuters.

    For instance, in France, Securite Reparation Vehicle (SRA), a gaggle backed by insurers, measures automobile elements inflation and publishes this within the hope it can assist exert downward stress on elements inflation.

    In line with Boutboul’s criticism, Partneo averted climbing costs of the particular elements whose worth is carefully adopted by SRA. Accenture declined to touch upon whether or not the software program nonetheless operated in this manner.

    Reporting by Tom Bergin; Modifying by Mike Collett-White

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