Vehicle technology is advancing at an unprecedented rate and helping SEMA members understand and leverage emerging vehicle technologies is one of the association's top priorities, according to John Waraniak, SEMA vice president, vehicle technology.

Automotive technology and innovation will continually evolve, but technology must be adopted and embraced by consumers to make a difference. One hundred years ago, for example, there were three competing powertrain technologies: steam, electricity and gasoline. Gasoline-powered engines and mechanical systems emerged as the dominant technologies, but with today's rapid advances in electronics, materials and controls, we have several more competing alternative powertrain technologies, including hydrogen fuel cells, biomass diesels and hybrid combinations of electricity and gasoline.

The key point, which many SEMA member companies know well, is that product innovation does not come from the discovery of technology, but from being the first to use these vehicle technologies to create new and exciting market opportunities, as well as to solve problems and meet consumer and enthusiast demands.

To this end, SEMA will be introducing a new program called Technology Briefing Seminars (TBS) and Tech Talks 2.0. The TBS program will provide an effective platform for integrating SEMA's vehicle technology initiatives and our collaborative efforts with SAE, CAR, CEA and MERA, as well as many of the value-added elements of the original Tech Talks program.

The TBS series of seminars will focus on new and emerging vehicle technologies relevant to SEMA-member company products. The seminars will be one- to two-day events centered on specific technologies impacting the fusion of performance and safety. The NHTSA for example is accelerating the adoption of active safety systems and technologies such as electronic stability control (ESC).

And while many drivers and enthusiasts are split on crash-avoidance technologies where computers take over control of their vehicles, history has shown that new vehicle technologies have not been the demise of the specialty-equipment market, but rather a catalyst for growth and innovative product solutions for many of our member companies.

Systems engineers, product planners and technical experts from the aftermarket specialty equipment industry, as well as OEM and Tier One communities, will participate in these seminars. SEMA will hold these seminars in the Detroit and Los Angeles areas in an effort to have as broad an outreach as possible.

The first TBS is scheduled for September 6–7, in Diamond Bar, California, and will address ESC systems. Waraniak and Ed Browalski, SEMA's ESC advisor, are developing the TBS content and will announce details of the seminar in early July.

TBS and Tech Talks 2.0 will be described in further detail in the August issue of SEMA News and will include four intense, accelerated presentations at the SEMA Show—ESC, TPMS, Mobile Electronics Integration and Performance Diesel—designed to increase awareness of our TBS Series and Tech Talks 2.0 Program.