Frequently Asked Questions about OEM, OES, OE, Genuine and Aftermarket Parts

Recent confusion over how automotive parts retailers classify different types of parts has prompted us to create this Frequently Asked Questions page so that we can clearly explain to our customers the confusing terms and nomenclature that dominate our industry.  We hope that you find this information useful, and helpful in determining which parts to purchase for your car.

What exactly does it mean when a part comes from an OEM supplier for a particular part?
When Porsche first designs and builds a car, it subcontracts out with many different suppliers (most of whom are German companies) to supply parts for the car. For example, Behr is an original equipment supplier to Porsche and the new Porsches that left the factory often had Behr radiators in them (Behr is also an OEM supplier for Porsche).  Car manufacturers typically don't manufacture the parts that go into the cars - they assemble the cars from parts made by outside companies.  The factory part that you purchase from the dealer is in fact a repackaged part from an external manufacturer.  Pelican provides many parts from these outside manufacturers - they are called Original Equipment Suppliers (OES).  The OES is the current or a past supplier of original equipment for a particular part number.  These manufacturers are flagged in our catalog for each part with the following indicator:

     The term Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) refers to a company that has supplied some parts directly to Porsche or BMW for the assembly of their cars.  This manufacturer may not have been the Original Equipment Supplier (OES) for a particular part, but now offers an exact-fit replacement part.  Example: Textar has manufactured brake pads for both Porsche and BMW over the years for use in the cars as they are assembled on the line in Germany.  However, Textar may not have been an original supplier of brake pads for a 1992 E36 318is.  In this case they would be listed in our catalog as an Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM), but not the Original Equipment Supplier (OES) for this particular part.  They may have provided other components for this car when it was built (like emergency brake shoes), but they they were not listed as one of the Original Equipment Supplier (OES) for this particular part.

What exactly does Genuine mean?
Genuine parts are parts that are acquired directly from the factory (directly from Porsche, BMW, VW, Mercedes, etc.), and actually come delivered in a Porsche or BMW box.  These parts are the exact same ones that you would get if you went to your local Porsche or BMW dealer and ordered the part over the counter.  These parts are typically much more expensive than their OEM counterparts because you are paying for the Porsche or BMW name and their associated two-year warranty.  These parts are also sometimes referred to as OE (Original Equipment).  In general, the Genuine parts are the highest quality available, with only rare exceptions where Porsche and BMW has outsource their production to non-European countries, and the quality levels have not kept pace with the ones of previous generations.

What is an aftermarket supplier?
An aftermarket supplier is a company that manufactures parts for the cars after they have been sold.  In many cases, aftermarket parts are of higher quality than the OEM or Genuine parts.  Examples of this would be Elephant Racing suspension components or Rennline accessories.  These parts were never sold to the manufacturer at the time the car was produced in the factory.  Sometimes aftermarket suppliers will manufacture parts that are meant to be used as direct replacements for OEM or Genuine parts.  In many cases, these aftermarket parts are of equal quality, sold at significant savings.  Pelican has attempted to make the process of deciphering which aftermarket brands are best by assigning a Pelican Quality Rating to each one.  This allows our customers to make informed decisions when it comes to purchasing replacement parts.

Why are there multiple manufacturers listed as OEM suppliers for the same part?
It is important to note that car manufacturers often contract with multiple suppliers to provide parts for a particular model of car. This is not only a good business practice, but it's also often a requirement for various quality certification programs (like ISO 9000). Car manufacturers will often substitute one brand for another when there is a disruption to their supply chain.  For example, there have been many different types of brake rotor suppliers for Porsche over the years.  Depending upon the current conditions of the supply chain when the car was manufactured, it may have originally come with one brand or another (ATE, Balo, and/or Zimmerman were all interchangeable). 

If I order an OEM part, will be be *exactly* like the Genuine one?
OEM parts are designed to be functionally equivalent to the Genuine (OE) ones.  In some cases, the OEM part will be exactly like the Genuine with no visual or performance differences.  In some cases, there may be slight cosmetic differences.  For example, Porsche has recently trademarked their part numbering system, so many non-Genuine parts now do not have any part numbers listed on them.  The parts are the same, typically made in the same factory, but one has part numbers and the other one doesn't.  In some cases, if you purchase a part from the dealer, you will get a part that is NOS (New Old Stock).  This is a part that was manufactured a long time ago, and has been sitting on a shelf in Germany for many years.  In this case, the NOS Genuine part may have slight cosmetic differences from the newer OEM parts, but performance and functionality should be exactly the same.  With some parts, particularly ones with rubber seals, purchasing an older NOS part is not necessarily a good thing -  some parts have a definitive shelf life, and the longer they sit, the more they may dry out or deteriorate.

I ordered an OEM or Genuine part and it says it's made in Asia.  What's up with that?
With today's global economy, a lot of OEM and Genuine suppliers are manufacturing parts for the cars all over the world - both for the aftermarket (like the parts that we sell), and for the original cars themselves. Bosch, for example, has shifted a large portion of its manufacturing to Asia in an attempt to reduce the costs associated with the high cost of German labor. In many cases, it may not be possible to get a particular part manufactured in Germany, because so much of the production of the "German" cars and parts is done outside of Germany.

I ordered one brand and it came in a box with another brand listed on the outside, but the part inside was the brand I ordered?
There has been a lot of consolidation in the auto parts industry lately.  The result is that many different brands are owned by the same parent company, and are in fact the same exact product, sold under different labels.  For example, TMD Friction now owns the brands Textar, Pagid, and Mintex.  So, it's possible that you might order Textar pads and have them arrive in a Pagid box.  Or order Mintex pads, and have Pagid pads inside the Mintex box.  It can be very confusing, but the bottom-line is that the product that is in the box is indeed the product that you ordered - it may just be branded slightly differently

What is a dealer-only part?
All dealer-only parts are Genuine parts. However, at Pelican, the actual term dealer-only doesn't really apply to us.  That is because Pelican has close alliances with both the BMW and Porsche factory dealer network.  Any part that is listed as available from Porsche or BMW, we can obtain.  Sometimes these parts have to be special ordered from Germany because Porsche or BMW do not have any located within the United States.  If we can't get the part, then chances are, it's not available anywhere in the US.  The exception to this is if a local dealer happens to have an extra one stuffed on a shelf in the back room somewhere that has been sitting there for quite some time. 

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