The Specialty Equipment Market Association show this week promises to have a wide variety of aftermarket products that deliver style, entertainment and performance. Staff Reporter Gail Kachadourian identifies five trends worth watching.
|1. Asphalt ballet|
|As the activity of drifting gains momentum (see related story on Page 6P), companies are manufacturing suspension products designed for that activity. Drifting is a technique that involves controlled skids. American Products Co., in Corona, Calif., will exhibit prototypes of its drifting products at the SEMA show under the Drift Works brand name. These products include a hood and wide body panels that accommodate wide wheels and tires.|
|2 Getting into the groove|
|The aftermarket is catering to off-road enthusiasts who like "slickrock" driving. Companies are producing specialty wheels, tires and suspensions geared for the sport. Slickrock driving involves driving a 4x4 vehicle in competitions over extremely difficult obstacles, including steep walls. These might be natural or man-made obstacles.|
BFGoodrich of Greenville, S.C., for example, sells a 17-inch Krawler T/A tire that slickrock enthusiasts can order with about half of the tread area left blank so they can custom groove the tire themselves.
|3 Turning Japanese|
|Americans' pursuit of aftermarket parts made specifically for the Japanese domestic market shows no sign of letting up, SEMA says. Some of the Japanese products making their way into vehicles made for the U.S. market include engines, exterior lights, grilles, exterior cladding (shown at left), seats and gauge clusters.|
|4 Watch what you're doing|
|The number of mobile electronics exhibitors at this year's SEMA show and the amount of space they occupy will be twice what they were last year, show organizers say. On display will be a Pioneer navigation and entertainment center that uses sensors to show vehicle performance information, such as speedometer and tachometer data. Consumers also are adding more video screens in their vehicles in various places, including headrests, headliners and door panels. The screens are used for video games and for watching movies and TV.|
|5 Just rolling along|
|Wheel styles come and go, but the trend has been that wheels keep getting bigger. The majority of aftermarket car wheels sold in the U.S. market are 17 to 18 inches in diameter, but wheels that are 20 inches and larger are growing in popularity. Most original-equipment car wheels are 15 or 16 inches. Also popular are LED (for "light-emitting diode") lights that make wheels glow. This LED wheel light from StreetGlow Inc. of Wayne, N.J., will retail for $14.99 when it goes on sale in January.|