Adding new wheels is still typically among the first modifications consumers make to their vehicles. Whether their vision is to improve aesthetics or performance, this segment of the automotive specialty-equipment market has the potential to make their ride stand out from the rest of the pack.
True to form, the 2018 LA Auto Show—with media days branded “AutoMobility”—showcased the latest technological developments in the arenas of autonomy, safety, connectivity and electrification. More than a dozen OEMs held press conferences ahead of the show’s official opening to the public. Several models and concepts were noteworthy for their customization potential, promising business possibilities for manufacturers of specialty equipment.
Among the several distinguished honors bestowed at the annual SEMA Show Industry Awards Banquet, the Person of the Year award stands as perhaps the most prestigious. More than their own personal or career achievements, individuals who have received the award were selected in recognition of their tremendous service and contributions to the industry in advancing the success of the entire marketplace. At the recent 2018 SEMA Show ceremonies held in Las Vegas on Thursday night, November 1, the association named Melanie White of Hellwig Products as its 2018 Person of the Year.
As two of the most fundamental means to enhance a vehicle’s style and performance, aftermarket wheel and tire upgrades have always been an easy sell. They’re often the very first specialty items consumers add to their new vehicles and are nearly as popular for freshening older vehicles that are beginning to look and feel, well, mundane. While the wheel and tire market noticeably slowed during the recent economic downturn, the good news for 2019 is that it’s rolling forward again.
Toyota Supra Race Car: The specs for the two models to be shown at the Detroit Auto Show have been all but confirmed: 265 hp from a base 2.0L inline-four, and 340 hp from the inline-six engine.
Chevy Colorado ZR2 Bison: The Colorado ZR2 Bison is a factory-spec truck with serious off-road capabilities. It features class-exclusive front and rear locking differentials and Multimatic DSSVTM dampers.
’20 RAM 2500 Tradesman: The new HD trucks are expected to ditch the crosshair grille—a hallmark of the vehicle since the mid-’80s. Other exterior styling runs parallel to the 1500 but in a more muscular fashion.
A poll is taken of exhibitors every year at the SEMA Show to ascertain which vehicles they feel are the most customizable. The SEMA Award winners that result represent the cars, trucks and SUVs that aftermarket manufacturers are investing in and developing products and accessories for. That allows SEMA to formally recognize the year’s trends and promote synergy between OEMs and the aftermarket.
The 2018 SEMA Show featured nearly 3,000 new products on display in the New Products Showcase—the No. 1 destination for attending buyers and media. All products entered were eligible for SEMA New Product Awards in 16 different categories, including street-performance, racing, off-roading and mobile-electronics, and each category had one winner and two runners-up. The annual competition recognizes the development of ground-breaking new products introduced to the automotive specialty-equipment market.
Stunning originality is the hallmark of the largest automotive trade show in the world, which comes to life for a few short days once a year in Las Vegas. Starting with empty halls and bare concrete floors, an estimated 5,000 workers build infrastructure to support thousands of exhibitors, in the process bringing in close to 10 million lbs. of freight. In empty parking lots, hundreds of workers swarm to erect structures.
Coming off the recently concluded SEMA Show, it’s apparent that the industry is eager and primed for growth in the new year. But while the Show is always the ideal venue for spotting industry innovations, there are also broader factors at work shaping industry direction and individual business growth. Overall economic health, consumer confidence and new vehicle configurations are just a few of the trends that will impact SEMA-member businesses in 2019 and beyond, and connecting such dots for solid business planning is no small task.
SEMA News spoke with SEMA’s council and network leaders to find out what’s in store for the coming year, and to get their thoughts about the emerging trends and the challenges they can expect to face based on what their organizations are seeing in their respective marketplaces. Common themes included the responsibility to fight overly restrictive government regulations, continued concern regarding the Recognizing the Protection of Motorsports (RPM) Act, and the evolution of in-vehicle technologies, such as advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS).