For as much gee-whiz coverage the SEMA show receives, many principle SEMA facts are not well known outside the industry. Here's a bullet-point primer:
SEMA: Specialty Equipment Market Association
Number of member companies: 7,358
Member companies gross business revenues: $38.1 billion
2008 Official Vehicle: '10 Chevrolet Camaro
Number of OEMs displaying at the show: 15, representing 32 nameplates
Approximate number of displays at the show: 1,900
Approximate show attendance: 100,000
Exhibitors in Tires & Wheels: 320
Exhibitors in Mobile Electronics: 165
Exhibitors in Racing & Performance: 475
Largest diameter wheel displayed: 42-inch Lexani
Core values at SEMA revolve around the traditional U.S. activities at the dry lakes, drag racing, musclecars, and street rods. In later years, the import, off-road and bling lifestylers have come to the party with varying success, and now the trend is green.
Green-what used to be called the ecology movement-resonates today, and thus SEMA is on it. This year SEMA's eco-experimentation resulted in a "Making Green Cool" press conference. This was right after a technology briefing seminar, "The Green Scene: Clean Diesels, Wild Hybrids, and Muscle Electrics." How much of this will stick through a changing economy is yet to be seen, but it's certainly a sign that mainstream societies move toward ecological sustainability is hitting the performance world.
Something else that we've never seen that was scattered throughout the legacy performance parts makers are price reductions. Often on simple things such as stamped steel valve covers, we noted enough price reductions in the 5-15 percent range to make it a small trend.
You can file the following excerpts from a SEMA press release in the "Glad to be an American" folder.
"In a historic decision reached in August 2008, the (communist) Chinese government lifted a ban on specialty equipment products, making it legal for consumers in China to personalize and modify their vehicles. This decision has opened the door for SEMA member and non-member companies to tap into the world's second largest automotive market, estimated at $15 billion.
"There were over 4.3 million vehicles sold in China in 2007, and in the first seven months of 2008, there had already been a 26 percent increase over the same period last year.
"The market in China for aftermarket accessories and performance parts is estimated at $15 billion, with street tuning accounting for $125-$150 million, off-road modification at $50 million, and what's referred to as "car beauty" at $12.5-$15 billion.
"The Chinese government officially legalized over 500 products that cover all segments of the SEMA industry...
"The U.S. Embassy predicts sales of $23 billion in this sector by 2010, and some predict China to become the largest car market in the world by 2025.
"Three top Chinese agencies collaborated to legalize and deregulate automotive accessories throughout the country: the Chinese Ministry of Commerce, the National Development and Reform Commission, and the Ministry of Public Security."
We may have a Department of Homeland Security, but at least they don't regulate camshafts and floor mats. Yet.