2002 SEMA: Best New Products

November 11, 2002

Get it all: 2002 SEMA Show Coverage (11/6/2002)

So after reading TCC’s coverage for the past week, you think you know everything there is to know about the 2002 SEMA Show? Hardly.

One visit to the wacky world of new products from what all the OEMs like to call “our SEMA partners” is evidence enough. Some of the SEMA stuff is truly useful — and some of it…well…let’s just say truckers have to have something to buy on the road.

Searching for those creative offerings this year was even more challenging, thanks to the newly expanded Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC). With some two million square feet of exhibit space, doing the wall-to-wall thing took extra time, shoe leather and stamina.

Wheel wares: With 144 wheel manufacturers displaying their wares, you’d wonder why any company would take the SEMA Show plunge. But two-year-old Mizati Luxury Alloys hired 20-year SEMA veteran John Cemore as its national sales manager and he didn’t hesitate. “Realistically, we couldn’t afford not to be here,” he told us. “The exposure to distributors as well as retail store (buyers) is unbeatable.” Mizati’s smallest wheel is 17 inches, but “18, 20 and 22 inches are the bulk of the high-end market and the trend is for higher sizes,” said Cemore. “We get a lot of requests for those, but often people will try a 24 for looks and end up going back to 20s.” Why? “They don’t expect the amount of ride quality they lose.” Why “luxury alloys” in the company name? “We’re establishing the fact that we’re high end, our product will last, and the wheels’ design and finish.” www.mizatiwheels.com.

2002 SEMA Racing Furniture

2002 SEMA Racing Furniture

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NASCAR couch potatoes, rise!: New wheels are an accessory for your vehicle; Racing Furniture offers a race car-related accessory for your home, and “the best seat in the house on race day.” Being located in High Point, N.C. puts them in the heart of both furniture and NASCAR country, where its leather sofas in the livery of Winston Cup cars are a natural. Most have the driver’s signature along with his number and color scheme, all but the most popular, the number 3. “That’s because the number 3 is licensed by RCR (Richard Childress Racing), but anything having to do with Dale Earnhardt is licensed by DEI (Dale Earnhardt Inc.) Childress is a big supporter of the firm, which also serves as a licensing company for those seeking “the NASCAR bar” for their products.

“Richard’s race shop is only 30 minutes away,” said Racing Furniture CEO Brown Councill. “He wants us to come up with a recliner for him to sell in his new museum. He even sent an old Hurst shifter from the 29 car to use as a model for making the recliner’s control handle.” Just as with new OEM vehicles, the sofas have different trim levels, all leather ones are $1,995, while “leather seating” retails for $1,495. There’s even “automotive-inspired lumbar support” along with “hand channel stitching and quality perforated leather. The sofas have been on the market since July and armchairs are coming before year’s end at $525 and $375. Unlike most first-time SEMA Show exhibitors, Racing Furniture isn’t looking for distributor. They “sell directly to customers” and can be found atwww.racingfurniture.com.

2002 SEMA Carchip

2002 SEMA Carchip

Black box on wheels: It’s certainly not surprising that sophisticated electronics would be incorporated into aftermarket products. Davis Instruments’ carchip package consists of a tiny “black box” data logger, software on a CD, a power adapter and connecting cable to access your cars OBD-II data and later download to your PC. The company’s been involved with “in vehicle monitoring for the last eight years, mostly for (trucking) fleets,” according to spokesman Russ Heilig. The rationale for expanding it to cars and private use we asked? “We knew the data was available and it could be used as a diagnostic tool,” he answered. “It has two primary functions, to show trouble codes and routine data logging. If you have an intermittent problem it gives you a snapshot of where and how it occurred.”

The standard carchip ($139) records 75 hours of trip details, including time, date and distance of each trip, your speed every five seconds, hard accelerations and decelerations, engine trouble codes and more. The carchipEX (which won SEMA’s Best Engineered New Product Award) upgrades the above to 300 hours and can be programmed to measure up to four engine parameters every five to 60 seconds. Users can choose from 23 parameters, including such esoterica as intake manifold pressure, timing advance and short- or long-term fuel trim. Davis is “definitely looking for distributors,” said Heilig. “We’ve had good response; some people say they can’t believe we did it and some say it’s the greatest product they’ve ever seen.”www.davisnet.com

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