Every year, it becomes more obvious: Anyone who attends the SEMA show in Las Vegas comes away dazzled at the potential for accessories for cars and trucks. SEMA is the Specialty Equipment Market Association, and its extravaganza was held last week.
Every year, the SEMA show gets larger and larger, to the point that it is almost impossible to cover the entire event.
And every year, more new-car dealers show up in Las Vegas to wander the miles and miles of aisles showing off the hot new accessories.
As margins decline for new-car dealers, the sale of high-profit accessories, which for the most part can be financed right along with a new car or truck, should be irresistible.
The profit potential is clear to anyone who has seen a successful dealer merchandise those accessories.
SEMA is fun. Not only can you figure out what's going to be the hot aftermarket product for the next year, but you can spot trends -- items that will show up on new vehicles in a year or two. You can catch a glimpse of the future.
One trend that gets bigger every year is products for small, front-wheel-drive cars. Most of the cars come from Asia, but even Saturn is getting its share of attention. As fuel prices remain high, interest in those fwd cars is growing. And the youth market wants performance along with fuel economy.
Here's the dichotomy: The two categories with the greatest interest are small, fwd economy cars and big trucks. Truck accessories are huge.
General Motors and some of the Japanese automakers have jumped in, with slight reservations. Chrysler is smart to set up special areas of dealerships for accessory sales at Mopar Speedshops.
Financing really makes sales of accessories easier. It's a golden opportunity if a dealership can roll those accessories into the new-car financing. It makes sense to put the whole purchase under one payment plan. The customer will love it.
Accessories can't replace all the margin that car dealers are losing. But accessories are another form of revenue. It would be a shame if car dealers ignored the potential.