For automakers donning "tuner" hats for the yearly migration to the SEMA (Specialty Equipment Market Association) show on Nov. 3, what happens in Vegas will not, it is to be hoped, stay in Vegas. The show, which started life as a car display beneath an Orange County, Calif., overpass, has become one of the biggest car-business confabs in the world.
Peter MacGillivray, who heads up the communications and events programs for SEMA, tells Marketing Daily that although the economy has hurt it, the show has fared better than others.
"It's been an interesting and really kind of flattering year for us because, while we are down, when we analyze numbers, there are little gems," he says. "For instance, the number of exhibitors is actually pretty solid." He says there will be in neighborhood of 1,700 exhibitors, and nearly a dozen automakers. "We are heartened to see that the show delivers enough value that it's motivating that many of them to invest in our trade show."
As of Thursday, 100,000 had signed up to attend, he says. "Again, when you consider that average trade show in Vegas is down 30% in terms of attendance, we are on track to be somewhere in the neighborhood of [down] 10%. When you pile on top of it [the fact that] we are in auto industry, it makes us feel like the steps we have taken to create value programs that make it affordable on both the buyer and exhibitor sides -- that work is paying off."
Miles Johnson, product manager, says Hyundai is going to use the upcoming show to showcase tricked-out versions of the Genesis sedan and coupe. "The Genesis sedan and coupe are our rear-wheel drive products; up till now we have really haven't had anything that spoke to the SEMA crowd," he says.
Hyundai is showing several versions of the car, one of which will be an unveiling of a new limited-volume production model called Genesis R-Spec, which basically adds performance goodies and subtracts amenities. "It speaks to tuners; we take the stuff from our track package and delete all the stuff tuners wouldn't want: sunroof, cruise control, Bluetooth, because the guy who buys this car is going to modify it anyway."
The company will also use the show to spotlight its aftermarket-parts program with parts-maker Greddy, and its drift-racing relationship with Red Bull and driver Rhys Millen. Hyundai is also using the show to promote a console-game product placement deal with Microsoft.
For Chrysler, SEMA has been critical to its aftermarket division, Mopar. The company will show four vehicles bedecked with Mopar parts: a 556-horsepower Dodge Challenger, a Jeep Wrangler that transforms into a mobile campsite, a luxury Dodge Ram 1500 and an "extreme" Jeep Wrangler with 40-inch tires. It must be SEMA season.
Among other things, General Motors will present design awards for various categories of modified GM vehicles.
Lexus will use the show to unveil its LFA supercar, which was first shown at the Tokyo Motor Show and which will be the flagship vehicle of Lexus' F series of performance cars.