J.D. Power and Associates forecasts that China’s light-vehicle market will reach 15.8 million this year, up 20% from 2009, and will account for nearly one-quarter of global sales. By comparison, the U.S. market will grow only 12% to 11.7 million. As car ownership grows in China, so will the desire for car owners to personalize their vehicles.
“There is a lot of word-of-mouth about the performance aftermarket [in China]," says Steve Kelley, vice president of business development at Performance Motorsports. “It will grow quickly. Luckily, there is a lot of cash available in the bigger cities.”
Kelley will be in Beijing in late September at the SEMA-CIAPE China Business Development Conference. He says the conference will help him meet potential distributors that would otherwise take him years to develop on his own. SEMA members participating in the event will be paired with relevant Chinese buyers in up to a dozen private, pre-scheduled meetings. One-on-one meetings with potential Chinese partners will offer a chance to learn about their business and the market.
The conference will mark Ernie Boehm's first trip to China. Boehm, national manager of American Eagle Wheel Corp., plans to tout his company's "Made in America" cachet to potential
distributors. “If the Chinese companies are going to sell product over here, we figure we should sell product over there,” Boehm says.
American aftermarket performance products carry a prestige and level of quality that domestic Chinese brands do not. T.K. Lee, president of Donz Wheelz Corp., figures that cachet will create demand for his forged wheels among China's luxury-car owners. Lee will also be in Beijing. SEMA members, meanwhile, aren’t waiting until it’s too late to make their mark in China.
ebay Motors became the 20th SEMA member to join the SEMA China Business Development Conference—an innovative, low-cost program for SEMA-member companies to learn about the developing market for specialty products. Other companies traveling to Beijing China to participate on the September 23–26 hotel-based program are:
- AEM Performance Electronics
- American Eagle Wheel Corp.
- AMSOIL INC.
- BDS Suspension
- Bushwacker Inc.
- Comp Performance Group
- DELTA TECH Industries LLC
- Eibach Spring Inc.
- Holley Performance Products Inc. USA
- Injen Technology Co. Ltd.
- K&N Engineering Inc.
- NITTO Tires
- Mr. Gasket/Prestolite Performance
- Performance Motorsports
- Rennen International
- SCT Performance LLC
- Sheen Coatings Co.
- ThyssenKrupp Bilstein GmbH
- Wheel Pros