In the mainstream
For years, SEMA itself was on the periphery when it came to major automakers, but in recent years, it has become decidedly mainstream, as carmakers trip over each other to win their share of attention. The floor of the Convention Center was filled with company-funded custom rigs, this year, many of them sponsored by General Motors, the corporate sponsor of the 2001 SEMA show.
There are several reasons why automakers such as GM have become more actively involved, noted Robert Triulzi, director of accessories operations for GM’s Service Parts Organization, or SPO. For one thing, it can generate a lot of sales. It’s not unusual for a customer to add hundreds, even thousands of dollars worth of accessories to a new vehicle.
And even when they buy something used, said Triulzi, “It’s not unusual for someone to go out and spend $5000 on a used performance car, then go out and spent another $5000, $6000 for performance parts.”
GM, Ford and other carmakers have been vying for a larger share of the aftermarket business in recent years. Nissan took advantage of the show to announce that it will start selling its NISMO line of high-performance parts next autumn.
The carmakers are also working with outside vendors—often making available detailed technical specifications—to expand the range of aftermarket parts available for their products. “That enhances the personalization of our vehicles,” explains Triulzi, “and the more they can personalize our vehicles, the more likely people are to buy them.”
So, despite the uncertain economy and the national malaise triggered by the 9/11 assault, it was as close as possible to business-as-usual at the SEMA show. And barring further setbacks, the mood of the organization’s members remains cautiously upbeat.