SEMA Vehicle Technology - Performance
While many SEMA companies fear that advanced vehicle technologies signal the demise of the specialty-equipment market and believe tighter federal emissions and fuel-efficiency standards will eliminate performance vehicles from America’s roadways, something quite different is happening. Green Muscle is alive and well and took center stage at many of this year’s auto shows. Leading automakers are focusing on matching horsepower with the fastest computing power. Advanced engine and transmission technologies such as cam phasing, variable valve timing, port deactivation, direct injection, turbo boosting, dry dual clutches and wide-ratio six-speed-plus gearing combined with reduced mass, decreased parasitic losses and integrated engine and transmission control software have improved the internal-combustion engine in these vehicles to efficiencies that would have been unbelievable just five years ago. While advanced vehicle technology provides increased safety, efficiency and performance, commercialization and the innovative application of technology are the economic multipliers.
Only 20% of the fuel’s energy is used to power vehicles equipped with traditional internal-combustion engines. Despite the hype and increased attention being focused on alternative fuels, the gasoline internal-combustion engine will continue to be a major element in the growth of the performance aftermarket for years to come due to significant innovations and improvements in gasoline direct injection, turbocharging, supercharging and electronic fuel management.
Horsepower still moves product. Nearly every major automaker now offers a performance car for street use that is as powerful as many of the racecars on the track. The Cadillac CTS-VR is equipped with a supercharged V8 that pumps out 556 horsepower. The new supercharged V8 Camaro ZL1 offers 550 horsepower and 550 pounds-feet of torque. Chevy will introduce a new limited-edition Camaro every six months. The 2011 Mustang with aluminum V6 makes 305 horsepower and gets 31 miles per gallon. The 2012 Dodge Charger SRT8 delivers an exceptionally mean version of its flagship sedan to the tune of 465 horsepower from an even larger Hemi V8. The engine grows from 6.1 liters to 6.4 liters with 465 pounds-feet of torque.
It’s not just new vehicles that are repowering the American Dream. Neil Young demonstrated the entrepreneurial spirit of SEMA members and performance enthusiasts everywhere with his keynote remarks and the introduction of his 1959 Lincvolt at the Green Performance session during last year’s SEMA Show. Power electronics is the new horsepower and represents an emerging technology in the performance aftermarket and new opportunities for the next generation of hot rodders and enthusiasts.
GenGreeners, the next generation of car buyers and enthusiasts, are under 16 years old today and will be the first generation to grow up with the choice of an electric, a hybrid or an internal-combustion engine as one of their buying options.