The action in Las Vegas this week isn’t at the casinos. It’s at the convention center where the Specialty Equipment Marketers Association is holding its annual conference, where SEMA members will show everything from high-performance engines to automotive security systems.
In all, Americans will spend more than $25 billion to improve the performance or simply to dress up their cars this year. And that figure has grown almost every year for decades, even during economic downturns. A large number of the players in this business are small, Ma-and-Pa firms.
But there’s going to be a big showing by the major automakers this year, both domestic and foreign. Companies like General Motors, Chrysler and Honda have discovered there’s a lot of money to be made selling aftermarket parts. The average Ford F-150 owner will spend $1000 or more on accessories. And there’s a growing market for performance parts for small cars like the Honda Accord. In the current economic climate, automakers know that’s money that can help prop up their sagging bottom lines.