I believe every threat is an opportunity and the specialty parts aftermarket has several opportunities that need to be addressed in the next five years.
The first is the continuing attack on an individual’s right to modify their car. New legislation is continually being introduced that impact modifications to the engine, exhaust, ignition, induction, headlights, bumper heights and other automotive systems. The EPA has issued a proposed regulation saying the Clean Air Act prevents an individual from modifying a motor vehicle to convert it into an off-highway racing vehicle only. SEMA is the front line defense to these extremist, over-reaching regulations. The opportunity here is the chance to introduce common sense laws, such as the RPM Act, that protect the future of racing and an individual’s right to modify their car or truck. SEMA is the only organization fighting for the automotive industry.
The second opportunity is the involvement of younger generations in our industry. This used to really concern me but I have come to realize there is a strong level of interest in cars and trucks by young people. The proof is right at our own SEMA Show. There are young people everywhere at the show. They are working the booths, they are building cars, they are walking the aisles searching for the latest new products and they are producing their own social media programs. Attend a local car show, drag race or local dirt track race. There are young people everywhere. Often they are second and third generation kids carrying on the family tradition. Our industry is exciting, attractive and popular. There are a lot of great kids out there that love their car or truck. SEMA’s opportunity is to identify those trends that are attracting the younger generation and market and promote them.
Another opportunity is electric vehicles or vehicles that utilize gas and electricity for power. Are they 500 cubic inch, wild-cammed, 800 horsepower beasts? Of course not but can they be fast? You bet they can. Electric motors can produce some very fast launches because of their instant torque. SEMA cannot control what vehicles and technology the OEMs choose to implement. However, SEMA can be the channel that the technology flows from the OEMs to industry manufacturers. Our industry is filled with some of the brightest minds in the world. We have a history of taking every change in technology and converting it from a threat to an opportunity.
Autonomous vehicles are the opportunity that I do not have an answer for. This one concerns me. Will this change happen overnight or even in my lifetime? I don’t think so but it will be here before we know it. SEMA will be the only organization fighting for the right for an individual to drive their own car. This will be one to watch but I believe there is so much passion in our country for personalizing and driving your own vehicle that there will always be opportunities to do so.