By Linda Spencer
In addition to China, the Middle East and Russia, the SEMA Business Development Programs is expanding into the Australian market for 2016.
SEMA has announced Australia as the fourth venue for its popular overseas Business Development Programs. The pilot project will be held May 25–29, 2016, in Melbourne, Australia. Join fellow SEMA members on this four-day visit to learn about this customizing-crazed market. Meet with pre-vetted buyers from the region and tour customizing shops. See first-hand what vehicles are on the road and the opportunities for your products. SEMA has again partnered with the U.S. Department of Commerce International Trade Administration. Awards of $1,000 are available to qualified companies to help defray participation costs.
Some facts about the Australian market:
- V8 powertrains are popular in Australia/New Zealand just as they are in the United States.
- A similar cars/light trucks mix exists as in the United States with more than half of the passenger vehicles sold annually in Australia being SUVs, pickups and other light trucks.
- They have an established motorsports culture, which includes drag racing.
- An enthusiastic car culture exists. As one United States manufacturer observed about Australian gearheads: “You will find in Australia and New Zealand knowledgeable enthusiasts who have the ability to understand the features and benefits of what we do and why we are different.”
- All segments popular in the United States also exist in Australia, including street performance, off-roading, hot rodding, drag racing and American musclecars.
- There is a strong demand for the new U.S. Mustang. Even before the first RHD Mustangs arrived in December, presales were so high that there was a 10-month waiting list. The Camaro is speculated to replace the Holden Commodore, and the possible entry of the Dodge Challenger is rumored. Manufacturers will be able to develop products for not only the U.S. market, but also worldwide with the same set of tooling.
- Fullsized pickups are officially being exported to Australia and New Zealand. Dodge Ram pickups are heading to Australia by the end of the year. Experts from Holden Special Vehicles complete the conversion from left- to right-hand-drive. It’s the first time a fullsize American pickup will be sold in Australia with manufacturer backing since 2007.
- Australia is an important market for U.S.-built vehicles. Currently, Australia has imported 42,000 vehicles from the United States in the first eight months of this year, making it the sixth-highest destination for American-built vehicles. As vehicle assembly in the region disappears, this growing trend accelerates even further. Holden, Toyota and Ford ceasing their manufacturing activities in Australia means that global platforms will replace those cars.
- Australia provides access to so many different vehicles in one place, it can result in application/product development that will open up many other markets that also sell those same vehicles.
- Australia and the United States share a common language, which eases communication.
- American products enter Australia tariff-free due to a 2005 Australia-U.S. Free Trade Agreement (AUSFTA).
- Though the mining sector has taken a bit of hit lately, it still provides opportunities for U.S. manufacturers to provide product for this sector.