Getting a Piece of the Global Pie

SEMA News—April 2018


Getting a Piece of the Global Pie

  Business Development ProgramCalifornia-based Baja Designs was one of 40 exhibitors at the Custom Show Emirates as part of the recent SEMA Middle East program. The program includes exhibiting at the largest show in the Middle East, visiting shops in the United Arab Emirates, selling styling and performance products, and meeting throughout the week with pre-vetted buyers.

According to the findings of a recent survey of U.S.-based SEMA-member manufacturers, SEMA-member companies are exporting in greater numbers than ever before and are optimistic that those sales will continue to climb in the next three years.

A full 84% of SEMA-member manufacturers reported that overseas sales contribute to their bottom lines, and 51% take a hands-on approach, with 124 respondents noting that they actively seek overseas business. Another 33% reported that they know their products are reaching overseas enthusiasts, though that is largely through their U.S.-based distribution (i.e., warehouse distributors). The remaining 16% reported that they don’t export abroad and/or aren’t aware if their products are being sold overseas.

SEMA provides a range of programs and resources to assist member companies that are already actively exporting as well as those that have set their sights on increasing their overseas customer bases. What follows is an overview of those member benefits.

This is the first of a two-part series on SEMA international offerings. Vehicle make/model data and programming at the SEMA Show are among the topics covered in the next article.

SEMA Overseas Business-Development Program

Participating in SEMA’s international trips has helped SEMA members open new markets and grow their businesses in existing markets. To date, 200 SEMA members have participated on one or more SEMA overseas business-development trips designed to provide members with a low-cost, high-value way to explore promising overseas markets. Taking part in these programs is an effective way for businesses to test markets, build brand awareness and set up distribution networks.

For those with distributors already in the target country, the trips are an excellent time to gauge how their arrangements are working and let their customers know that you are there to support their efforts to market your products. To date, companies traveling with SEMA are reporting a total of more than $124 million in export sales.

SEMA organizes three annual business-development programs to promising overseas markets. Fees for each trip include hotel, meals, a turnkey booth, exhibition fees and networking events. U.S. government support is available for qualified companies.

Upcoming Events

SEMA Event

Turnkey Booth

2018 Dates

More Information

Middle East

Custom Show Emirates

April 3–8



May 24–28


China Auto Salon

August 22–26

The sites for SEMA overseas business development programs are selected based on the following criteria:

  • Sizable population interested in customizing.
  • Discretionary income to afford U.S. specialty-equipment products.
  • Legal/regulatory environment allowing vehicle customization or a local government exploring legalization.

Typical Business-Development Schedule

The following daily schedule for an upcoming SEMA business-development trip is typical of the association’s overseas programs:

2018 SEMA Australia Exhibitor Schedule

Thursday, May 24

  • Check-in to hotel in downtown Melbourne.
  • 6:00 p.m.: Dinner/briefing with leading Australian buyers.

Friday, May 25

  • 7:30 a.m.: Bring booth materials to the lobby to be transported to the show.
  • 8:00 a.m.–9:15 a.m.: Breakfast briefing with U.S. government officials.
  • Board buses for visits to specialty-equipment shops.

Saturday, May 26

  • Breakfast at the hotel (at attendee’s leisure, included with program).
  • Board buses for the Melbourne show grounds.
  • 10:00 a.m.–6:00 p.m.: Exhibit at MotorEx Show (SEMA section trade only until 2:00 p.m.).
  • SEMA Networking reception at MotorEx.

Sunday, May 27

  • Breakfast at the hotel (at attendee’s leisure, included with program).
  • Board buses for the Melbourne show grounds.
  • 10:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.: Exhibit at MotorEx Show.
  • Evening delegation dinner.

International Vehicles/Scans Available to Create Export-Ready Products

  Ford RangerSEMA has available a ’16 Ford Ranger and ’16 Toyota HiLux for members to measure in order to create export-ready products. These vehicles are among the most customized vehicles abroad, but not sold in the United States. Ford will begin to sell the Ranger in the United States in 2019.

In order to provide members with the opportunity to create export-ready products, SEMA has created a program for members to measure vehicles popularly customized overseas but not sold in the United States. Through a special partnership with the U.S. Department of Commerce, the seven-year-old program includes importation of accessory-friendly vehicles into the United States so that SEMA members have access to the hard-to-obtain vehicles in order to create prototypes/products for overseas sales.

SEMA has made available seven international vehicles since the program began in 2012. The vehicles are allowed to remain in the United States for up to three years through U.S. government waiver programs. A ’16 Toyota HiLux and a ’16 Australian-spec Ford Ranger are currently available for SEMA members to measure in order to create export-ready products. Members are invited to measure the vehicles in the SEMA Garage; however, the vehicle can also be transported to the member’s facility, if preferred.

Details on the two available vehicles:

Ford Ranger

  • Where Built: Thailand
  • Year: 2016
  • Spec: Australian
  • Body Type: Double cab
  • Engine: 3.2L Duratorq TDCi diesel five-cylinder (PUMA ZSD-422)
  • Drivetrain: 4x4
  • Transmission: Six-speed automatic
  • Right-Hand Drive

Toyota HiLux

  • Where Built: Thailand
  • Year: 2016
  • Spec: Middle East, with newly acquired Australian-spec bed
  • Body Type: Double Cab
  • Engines: 2.7L VVT-i gasoline four-cylinder (2TR-FE)
  • Drivetrain: 4x4
  • Transmission: Five-speed manual
  • Left-hand drive

To reserve a vehicle, contact Stephanie Martinez at The association is currently considering obtaining a Nissan Patrol Y61. If you are interested in measuring that vehicle or have another one to recommend, contact Linda Spencer at

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