After years of snubbing tuners, Honda takes center stage, VW joins crowd at aftermarket trade event.
For the first time, a nondomestic brand, Honda Motor Co., will be the featured marque of the Specialty Equipment Marketing Association show, breaking a 15-year tradition in which the show's showcase marque rotated among General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co. and DaimlerChrysler AG's Chrysler Group brands.
Also for the first time, a German brand, Volkswagen, will have its own display and hold a press conference at the show, which celebrates automotive customizing and the work of aftermarket producers of auto accessories and performance and racing parts.
The moves by two nondomestic brands show how much things are changing in the U.S. auto industry.
"The domestics were the first to recognize and tap into our association and our show," said Peter MacGillivray, vice president of marketing and communications for SEMA. "But as personalization (of vehicles) becomes increasingly popular, other companies are now working with SEMA."
Indeed, with VW's participation, the 2005 SEMA show will have a record 14 auto manufacturers with displays, up from just three manufacturers in 1999.
With booths showcasing auto parts from SEMA-member companies added in, exhibits at the SEMA show this year will top 2,000 for the first time.
SEMA is erecting temporary structures in the convention center parking lot to house them all and close the street in front of the center to ease congestion. Show floor space this year is officially more than 1 million square feet, another first.
New car and truck sales may fluctuate. But the burgeoning SEMA show reflects sustained consumer demand for customized cars, trucks, vans and sport utility vehicles in the United States, MacGillivray said.
Sales of specialty auto accessories, everything from body kits and roof racks to turbochargers and suspension systems, grew at an average annual rate of 9 percent since 1994 and total about $10 billion a year in this country, according to SEMA research.