By Mike Imlay
Although vehicle electrification grabs major headlines these days, SEMA has kept an eye on the emerging phenomenon for some time now. After all, the specialty-equipment industry thrives on innovation and new platforms for performance and appearance modifications—and electric vehicles (EVs) are no exception.
Deeper understanding of EV architecture and approaches to high-voltage applications were the major attendee takeaways in the expanded 2022 SEMA Electrified exhibit space. Legacy EV utilized Tinkergineering’s Porsche 914 as an integration display for EV conversions.
To raise industry awareness surrounding this rapidly growing category, the 2019 SEMA Show first debuted SEMA Electrified, a new Show feature exploring EV technologies. For the recent 2022 Show, the section swelled to approximately 60 unique exhibits encompassing 21,000 sq. ft., more than 35 vehicles and numerous electrification components and products. SEMA Electrified also moved to the Las Vegas Convention Center North Hall, taking a more prominent place among other vehicle technology features.
“We’ve been pleased to witness the evolution of electrification in the specialty-performance aftermarket space, and are committed to educating our industry on the opportunities and the innovation taking shape throughout the industry,” said SEMA Vice President of Events Tom Gattuso. “Our efforts for 2022 resulted in the largest SEMA Electrified section we’ve ever had. But in addition to the section, we also saw more EV products and vehicles throughout the rest of the Show than ever before. Having incubated this category for several years now, it’s evident that electrification is becoming extremely popular in our industry and will be here for some time to come.”
The 2022 Volkswagen ID.4 was winner of the 2022 SEMA EV of the Year. SEMA vehicle awards reflect the voting of each year’s Show exhibitors, with this particular award added this past Show.
According to SEMA Director of Vehicle Technology Luis Morales, who played an instrumental role in expanding the exhibit space, the goal for 2022 was to bring Show attendees as much collective EV-related content as possible for business and educational development. Displays and content included new OE vehicle models, conversion kits and components, testing equipment, safety tools, charging solutions, service equipment, customized vehicles and accessories. The exhibit sought to improve business networking among EV-related companies, buyers and sellers; present and showcase new EV products for industry-wide education; and increase awareness of the various EV market opportunities now emerging in the aftermarket industry.
The exhibit was filled with crowds throughout the week and surrounded by positive feedback,” said Morales. “Many folks who were new to the electric market were both surprised and excited to see how far this segment of the industry had progressed, not to mention how much the SEMA Electrified feature itself had grown. From product awareness to integration, the exhibit facilitated many key conversations and takeaways among attendees. Many SEMA Electrified participants said they also benefited from internal connections for product development as well as new ideas for adjusting their business models for future success.”
Everything starts with education. Understanding EV powertrains’ work and safety aspects was a prime focus of the SEMA Electrified live-education stage. Here, attendees got hands-on learning, courtesy the Legacy EV team.
Accessorized late-model vehicles proved that vehicle personalization will continue organically within the aftermarket regardless of a vehicle’s powertrain option. Modified vehicles included the Tesla Model 3, Tesla Model Y, Tesla Model S, Ford F-150 Lightning, Ford Mustang Mach-E, Audi e-tron, and the Polestar 2, among others. The vehicles were provided by many well-known industry names, including Bisimoto, Tjin Edition, Air Design USA, Tsportline/Alpharex, TSK, Levvel Air/Rad Rides, Unleashed Motorsports, Diablo Motorsports, Campworks and Lectron.
Electrification has also been a growing trend among vehicle builders, who continue to break new ground with imaginative vehicle conversions. This has in turn spawned new opportunities for businesses offering electric powertrain components ranging from individual items to complete kit solutions. And here again, SEMA Electrified offered a broad range of display vehicles demonstrating all sorts of innovations. They included a Ford Mustang, Plymouth Satellite, Ford Galaxy, Jeep Wrangler, Chevrolet Apache, Ram Promaster, Factory Five Cobra, Ford F-150, Porsche 914 and Mercury Cougar.
The list of companies providing converted vehicles was also extensive: Inspire EV, Conductive Classics, EV Muscle Cars, Electric 51 Speedshop, Scorpion EV, KTL Restorations, Maxwell Vehicles, Motorcadd, Electrified Veronika and Tinkergineering. In addition, companies like Ampere EV, DANA, Speedhut, Gig Performance, OMNI, Torque Trends, Hypercraft/Stealth EV and Conductive Classics showcased their latest electrification componentry.
“When it comes to an electric conversion, sourcing products may be a challenge and a learning curve, especially if you are new to EVs,” observed Morales. “We provided resources to help industry builders navigate this initial task. For example, Legacy EV and Fuel2Electric were on hand to discuss with attendees the proper path for selecting and sourcing products that are ultimately compatible with each other.”
A variety of different vehicle applications filled SEMA Electrified. From classics to late-models to race vehicles, they were all 100% battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and ranged from Bisimoto’s K3V to Inspire EV’s Mustang.
“Electric performance was also well represented through the display of several race vehicles highlighting new powertrain applications across differing race categories,” added Morales. “We were able to present attendees with a Pikes Peak Tesla Model 3, an electric Toyota GR86 for NASA’s Super Touring Series, a custom-body Porsche 935, a Drift Chevrolet Camaro and a Landspeed vehicle. Our vehicle providers included ENEOS, Hypercraft/Scalar Performance, Bisimoto, AEM EV/Holley and Revolt.
“In addition, SEMA staff got to work with several OEMs to bring such new EV models as the Karma GS6, Lucid Air, Lordstown Endurance and Volkswagen ID.4 to SEMA Electrified. Showcasing these models helped introduce them to various aftermarket companies exploring product opportunities in the electrification market.”
Various powertrain components were on displayed for different outputs, applications and integration capabilities in EV conversions. Displays ranged from individual components, such as these from DANA, to complete conversion kits, a fast-growing segment in this market.
But electric platforms and conversions are only one part of the overall EV equation. For battery-electric cars and trucks to truly take hold with consumers, current infrastructure from charging to service and repair must also advance.
“None of these vehicles would be on the road without a proper charging solution,” noted Morales. “We decided to bring in several participants like Wallbox, Webasto and Lectron to show the different applications available and educate attendees on differing charging requirements and output capabilities.”
SEMA Electrified drew attendees all week with several vehicle debuts, including this National Auto Sport Association- approved Super Touring Series SCR1 by Scalar Performance.
“We also wanted to showcase service and testing tools that relate to electric vehicles,” he added. “These tools are targeted at high-voltage applications. Whether you’re dealing with product development for a late-model vehicle or working on a conversion vehicle application, some of your required EV tools will be different than your traditional shop tools. We partnered with tool suppliers that included Reliable Automotive Equipment, Bendpak, DJS Fabrication, EZ Spare Wheel, Redline Detection and Snap-On to present product and educate attendees.”
In addition, SEMA Electrified hosted education and training sessions and demonstrations. The Inter-Industry Conference on Auto Collision Repair (I-CAR) hosted an exhibit with their EV training cart and associated tools and equipment, explaining the safety protocols for high-voltage vehicles, and Legacy EV presented a series of hands-on education and training sessions relating to electric conversions.
“The Legacy EV program was designed as a preview to their EV training road tour, which is launching in 2023 and will make a stop at the SEMA Garage,” Morales explained. “Meanwhile, Switch Vehicles had multiple presentations throughout Show Week pertaining to EV business development and education. They built an electric kit vehicle from the ground up from opening to close of Show. This gave participants some hands-on experience in the assembly and connection of EV architecture.”
Beyond SEMA Electrified, SEMA Show education tracks relating to EV trends were also greatly enhanced for 2022. Seminars addressed such topics as electric-conversion projects, shop safety and the addition of EV products and services to augment traditional business models and help future-proof a company, shop or retail establishment.
Of course, you can’t talk EVs without considering charging solutions. SEMA Electrified showcased different charging solution models addressing different applications, outputs and requirements. Lectron’s Polestar 2 vehicle demonstrated a variety of such solutions.
“Our role as a trade association and Show is to not only focus light on vehicle and product development, but to educate our industry on the latest trends and information,” noted Gattuso. “The seminars were widely attended, which I believe is a result of shops that are seeing more EV sales and customers coming in to modify and personalize their cars. Our job, really, is to look into the future of what that can mean for our attendees and their businesses.”
Gattuso further said that while the industry is steadily embracing vehicle electrification as a viable, performance-oriented powertrain, the SEMA Show will continue to reflect the breadth of the entire automotive world. This includes ongoing innovations and refinements to gasoline, hydrogen and other alternative propulsion systems.
“Our industry is about exploring the potential and capitalizing on the performance, style and reliability of all types of vehicles,” he said. “To use the old cliché, the acceleration pedal doesn’t know anything other than that pressing it makes the car go fast.
“We just celebrated our 55th SEMA Show. I think over the next 50 years, we’re going to see continued developments and improvements, and it’s exciting to see where our industry is headed.”
Staying Current on Electrification
Through various initiatives and efforts, SEMA embraces technology in the automotive industry and will continue to best position the association for the membership’s benefit. Plans are already underway for an even broader SEMA Electrified section at the 2023 SEMA Show, October 31–November 3, in the Las Vegas Convention Center.
In addition, with the progressive development and adaptation of EVs, hybrid electric vehicles (HEV) and general electrification, SEMA is developing programs and services to assist this emerging aftermarket segment. Whether you’re developing accessories for late-model EVs, components for electric powertrain conversions, or electric racing products, SEMA is ready to help through its SEMA Garage facilities in Detroit, Michigan, and Diamond Bar, California. Visit www.semagarage.com for more information.
2022 SEMA Electrified Exhibitors/Participants
Reflecting the rapidly growing interest in vehicle electrification, modifications and conversions, nearly 50 companies participated in the 2022 SEMA Electrified feature at the annual SEMA Show in Las Vegas—some presenting multiple displays. Brands ran the gamut from specialty parts and accessory suppliers to builders and OE vehicle manufacturers.
- AEM EV/Holley
- Air Design USA
- Ampere EV
- Conductive Classics
- Diablo Motorsports
- DJS Fabrication
- Electric 51 Speedshop
- Electrified Veronika
- EV Muscle Cars
- EZ Spare Wheel
- Gig Performance
- Hypercraft/Scalar Performance
- Inspire EV
- KTL Restorations/Electric GT
- Juiced Bikes
- Karma Automotive
- Legacy EV
- Levvel Air/Rad Rides
- Lordstown Motors
- Maxwell Vehicles
- Ohm On The Range
- Redline Detection
- Reliable Automotive Equipment
- Scorpion EV
- Switch Vehicles
- Torque Trends
- Unleashed Performance