When HKS announced late last month that it would be closing its U.S. facility for good, there was an odd silence here at Skunk2. No doubt, the news caused many to stop and reevaluate the state of the industry. Some blame HKS U.S.A’s closing on slow Japanese and American economies; others say it’s because of a lack of demand for performance parts, unfavorable exchange rates, even last March’s catastrophic earthquake in Japan. It’s true—all of these are likely contributing factors.
There’s an elephant in the room that many refuse to acknowledge though—copycat parts. Knockoff companies that thrive on stealing product designs, company logos, and packaging do little more than hurt the companies that bring consumers new, innovative, and proven parts and technology. The amount of knock-off HKS parts available to U.S. consumers is staggering and surely hasn’t helped HKS U.S.A.’s growth or ability to remain in business. The more consumers support the copycats, the less chance there is of companies that are capable of proper engineering, design, and R&D being able to exist. And when those companies fail to exist, it’s only a matter of time before the copycats fail as well.
HKS Japan will remain in business and says it will continue to service its U.S. customers from overseas. Service will likely be slower, customer service claims will be challenging, and parts will probably be more expensive. Parts development for U.S.-based vehicles will also decline. More knockoff companies will likely begin to fill the void, but are you willing to put your engine, your car, or your safety in the hands of the faceless copycats? HKS is among the first in a long line of reputable companies that have been affected by unscrupulous knockoffs. What will you do to make sure that what happened to HKS doesn’t happen to your favorite company?