|SEMA-member companies will have the opportunity to participate in up to a dozen guaranteed one-on-one meetings with pre-vetted Chinese buyers.|
Leading SEMA members, including AEM Performance Electronics, Eibach Springs Inc. and Competition Cams Inc., have already signed on to participate in SEMA's groundbreaking business-development conference taking place in Beijing in September. The three-day event, entitled the SEMA CIAPE China Business Development Conference, will include one-on-one meetings with Chinese distributors who want to give China’s burgeoning number of auto enthusiasts a taste of U.S. innovation. The SEMA members, for their part, aim to find Chinese companies that can do just that.
“You can’t miss the China market,” said Kirk Miller, vice president of sales and marketing at AEM. “Sales are huge, and there’s a growing middle class. If there is a market there on the verge of developing, it’s a great place to be.”
AEM is already selling small volumes in China, Miller said. He hopes to meet and connect with some tuner shops to expand that business. The ideal partner will have certain technical capabilities, according to Miller.
“If they have a dyno and are actually tuning stand-alone fuel management, that’s our customer,” he said.
SEMA-member Eibach Springs Inc. in Corona, California, a subsidiary of Germany’s Eibach AG, began selling its performance suspension springs in China only a few months ago. But the market is already very promising, said marketing manager Oliver Rathlein.
“Just like in the United States, every enthusiast (in China) wants to enhance his or her car,” he said.
European brands, such as Audi, Mercedes and BMW, are the main types of cars Eibach products are installed on in China, said Rathlein. There are plenty of those on China’s roads.
Audi, which has been produced in China for years, is the best-selling luxury brand there. More than 160,400 units were sold in 2009, according to J.D. Power and Associates. Mercedes and BMW also produce locally. They sold nearly 63,000 units, and more than 85,600 units, respectively in China in 2009.
China’s auto enthusiasts have a taste for imported luxury models as well. For example, nearly 10,500 imported BMW 7-series sedans were sold in China in 2009, according to J.D. Power and Associates. Mercedes sold nearly 14,200 imported S-class sedans in China in 2009.
Noted Scooter Brothers of Comp Cams: "I’ve had the opportunity to visit China a number of times over the last 10 years. It’s been amazing to see the industry grow from bicycles to motorcycles, and now to cars is such a short time. The Chinese love their cars, and performance as well; personalization is huge with them. As the used-car market develops and the aftermarket parts distribution system becomes more clearly defined, there will be tremendous opportunities for SEMA companies. My main reason for joining the SEMA CIAPE China Business Development Conference is to keep an ear close to the ground and establish as many relationships as possible with those on the ground floor of this developing market."