Restyling on a Comeback

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One of the most profound effects of the recession was the decline in U.S. vehicle sales, which plummeted from nearly 17 million in 2006 to about 10.6 million in 2009, according to Ward’s AutoWorld. And while the downturn hobbled nearly every facet of the automotive aftermarket, some of the greatest damage occurred in the restyling category, whose very existence is predicated on available vehicle inventory. Conversely, the recession and market forces also caused the original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to change the way they develop and market their products. Gone are the days when each automaker produced a multitude of variants, each of which was dappled with seemingly unending options lists. In order to save costs, the OEMs have condensed their offerings to restricted trim levels in the most popular models of the strongest brands. That contraction in variety will prove to be a boon for restylers, industry leaders say. As the OEMs reduce the range of packages they offer, restylers can fill the gaps.

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