Portuguese-based ChiquitaCar, a supplier of reused auto parts specialising in Mercedes-Benz, tells Auto Recycling World the history of the company and its place in today’s reuse auto parts market. We begin in 2000.
Sitting behind the wheel of a taxi in the middle of Lisbon, Americo Morgado counts to himself the number of times the taxi has been to the workshop in the last couple of months. Due to an untrustworthy used parts market, taxi repair is becoming very expensive. Americo decides that there has to be a way for taxi drivers and owners of Mercedes-Benz vehicles to repair and replace parts without the hefty price tag – the dream and idea of ChiquitaCar is born.
Americo begins working in a small garage that a friend owns; he starts by dismantling Mercedes-Benz – W124 & W201 models. As the dismantling continues, Americo comes across vehicles that are in very good condition but were discarded by their owners due to lack of parts or either the hefty price tag of repairing or replacing them.
In the years that follow, the company begins to expand, from the small garage to small warehouses in Portugal, expanding even to Germany, where Americo spends a couple of years. He buys Mercedes-Benz at their end of life and transports them to Portugal by car carrier to be dismantled.
2003 – with setbacks comes growth
After the client database grows spectacularly due to used parts gaining in popularity within the taxi community, Americo decides to invest in a workshop in Central Lisbon, to offer assistance to taxi drivers and private customers. During the same time, Americo and his team suffer a big loss; their car carrier, which normally transports cars from Germany to Portugal, is stolen, decreasing the supply of vehicles from Germany.
But with this setback also comes growth; the warehouses are getting bigger, and the client database is soaring. Americo and his team move once again to Lisbon and Germany.
They rent a 600m2 warehouse with space for the business and housing in Wuppertal, Germany, and in Lisbon, the team moves to a new warehouse with 1800m2. They also open a small store in the city of Porto, north of Portugal.
Business is booming, and ChiquitaCar takes things further by selling used and new Mercedes-Benz parts and introducing the VAG group (Volkswagen, Audi, Skoda & Seat).
2010 – Economic crisis and working out the best way forward
With the 2010 economic crisis comes a time of uncertainty, and Americo and his team take a step back. They re-evaluate their position, identify their faults and work on their strengths. The result is to close their shop in Porto, move to a smaller site, and remove the VAG Group from their stock, taking them back to where they began. They decide that original used and new Mercedes-Benz parts supply is their forte; this is what they started with and this is what they know works for ChiquitaCars.
2019 – Adapting during a pandemic
COVID arrives and all its restrictions – a phase the company, and the world, are unfamiliar with. All sales up until this point were over the counter. Now with this pandemic, Americo realises that ChiquitaCar needs to be able to work without direct contact with customers. Taking this on, the company adapt to the situation.
2021 – Creating software
ChiquitaCar begins to adapt software allowing them to correctly dismantle, store and identify every single part to begin their journey as an even greener company: If parts are not reused, they will be transformed into raw materials such as plastic, cardboard and metal.
Their new software is installed and what begins is the difficult process of creating an online store to support the 53,000 used parts, along with the new and original parts and all their information.
Now we reach 2022, Americo and his team begin buying ChiquitaCar’s first company-owned warehouse in Barreiro, where they are setting up a dismantling centre like no other found in Portugal, offering vehicle dismantling and raw material separation.
The new warehouse will be able to recycle a car leaving minimum waste. Americo adds a key member to the team, an environmental engineer, to help the team and company move in the right direction.
22 years on, Americo believes it is always better to have a used part than a new one. In his opinion, Mercedes-Benz is a make of vehicle with unmatched quality and integrity like no other. He believes that the more we recycle and continue to use cars even after they have come off the road, the better the outcome for our planet. He wants to take ChiquitaCar in a direction where they will be able to produce the smallest amount of waste whilst helping the planet by supplying well-kept used parts for people who look to replace theirs at a minimal cost.
To find out more about ChiquitaCar, go to www-chiquitacar-com