SEMA News - October 2009

By Megan McKernan

Growth for Businesses at the Core of the Specialty-Equipment Industry


The racing and performance market grew 4% between 2007 and 2008.
Photo: Zachary Krelle

The racing and performance component of the specialty-equipment market is comprised of three market niches: street performance, racing and compact performance. Combined, these three niches represent 32% of the total retail sales of the specialty-equipment market.

In 2008, the overall market contracted to $31 billion from $38 billion in retail sales. But the racing and performance market experienced growth. In fact, total retail sales for the three niches combined grew 4%, from just under $10 billion to $10.3 billion.

Specialty-Equipment Market

In 2008, manufacturer sales for the street performance niche reached $0.76 billion, up from $0.73 billion in 2007. Retail sales hit $2.19 billion, matching those of 2007. For the racing niche, manufacturer and retails sales experienced slight increases compared to 2007, reaching $0.37 billion and $1.11 billion respectively. The third niche that makes up the racing and performance specialty-equipment market is compact performance. This niche also experienced an increase in 2008, with manufacturer sales reaching $2.53 billion and retail sales hitting $7.03 billion compared to $6.69 billion the previous year.

The racing and performance market experienced growth. In fact, total retail sales for the three niches combined grew 4%, from just under $10 billion to $10.3 billion. 

Performance Vehicles

In 2009, the long-awaited 2010 Chevrolet Camaro was released and Ford redesigned the ever-popular Mustang. Both of these vehicles have had a home in the racing and performance market since they were first released in the 1960s. Countless SEMA-member companies manufacture and sell products for these vehicles. And several of these companies have requested data from SEMA’s Tech Transfer program in order to streamline and expedite the process of designing their parts.

The Camaro has been in hibernation since the 2002 model year. In June of 2009, sales of the Camaro topped those of the Mustang for the first time since 1993.

When asked about the 2010 Camaro, member companies agreed that the ability to access all computer-aided design (CAD) files for the vehicle was a great help. In fact, the CAD files were available to SEMA members before the vehicle even hit the showroom floor. Companies were then able to manufacture products and have them ready upon the release of the vehicle.

“The design and development process for our SMS 620 Camaro will be the most streamlined of all of our SMS Signature Series American musclecars,” said Phil Frank, chief creative officer for SMS Supercars.

JBA Performance Headers and Exhaust released a complete line of new products for the 2010 Camaro, including shorty and long-tube headers and four different exhaust systems. The company was able to do this with the help of SEMA’s Tech Transfer program.

“JBA has always appreciated SEMA and what the organization has done for our segment of the performance aftermarket,” said Greg Raymond, sales manager for JBA.


Member companies such as Roush Performance Products helped to make the 2010 Ford Mustang an awesome performance vehicle. 

Scott Johnson of Dakota Digital had this to say about the Tech Transfer and the Camaro: “The Tech Transfer program allowed us to jump way ahead of the curve regarding product design, fitment and packaging. Not only did we have our design done before the car was available to the pubic, but we had prototypes built as well—which, I might add, fit perfectly. I feel that the Camaro is going to be one of the most heavily modified cars in the specialty-equipment market in recent history. This is the perfect car for this industry at the perfect time.”

A similar statement was made by Bonnie Russell of ProjxAuto, who said: “Americans need something in the automotive market to get excited about, and I think we have it in the new Camaro.”

Two SEMA Measuring Sessions were held for the 2010 Camaro—one in Detroit and one in California. The one in Detroit was held in February 2009, a month before the Camaro was actually released for sale.

Another performance vehicle that has had a positive impact on the specialty-equipment market is the redesigned 2010 Ford Mustang. Although not a complete redesign like the 2005 Mustang, the front and rear of the vehicle were updated to give the 2010 car an even more aggressive look. The Ford Mustang has been an iconic mainstay of the street performance market since its introduction in 1964. In 2010, the Mustang will enter NASCAR for the first time, making its debut in the Nationwide Series.

A SEMA Measuring Session for the 2010 Mustang was held in Detroit in December 2008. Another was held in California in June. CAD files for the Mustang were made available to SEMA manufacturer members through the Tech Transfer program. As was the case with the Camaro files, members were extremely pleased to have this data and have parts available before the Mustang was even released. One testament to the success of this program comes from Marcello Canitano of SilverHorse Racing.

“Our use of the SEMA Tech Transfer program aids us in ensuring that the replacement products we manufacture for the Ford Mustang fit properly and exceed market expectations for fit and finish,” Canitano said. “By having the factory data, we can engineer our products to release at the same time as the new vehicle. Also, since we have the factory CAD data, we can rapidly prototype our parts in advance for testing before committing thousands of dollars to tool production.”

Access to CAD data has also helped SEMA members expand their businesses. For example, Shane Wagner of the Drake Automotive Group cited the Tech Transfer program as being responsible for the company becoming a direct supplier to Ford for new Mustangs.

“The Mustang is our core market and has been for over 25 years,” said Wagner. “We use the data to get perfect fits and verify functionality in 3D space, saving time and money. The tools at our disposal have also helped us to become a direct supplier to Ford for the 2010 and up model years.”

Unlike the Camaro, the Mustang has been on the market every year since its inception. Steeda Autosports Inc., a SEMA member and a company best known for fully outfitting Mustangs for performance, developed an open-element filter system for the 2010 Mustang that integrates with the stock air intake system. This was done in a timely and cost-effective way as a result of CAD data provided by Tech Transfer.

“The presence of the Mustang in the market really speaks for itself,” said Aric Pogel of Steeda. “The Mustang has been the vehicle of choice for performance modifications since the ‘80s, with no gap in availability. Low initial cost plus tremendous positive response to modifications makes this car very, very popular.”

The 2010 Camaro and the 2010 Mustang are expected to be well-represented at the 2009 SEMA Show. In fact, Ford is the Vehicle Manufacturer of the Show for 2009. As always, the SEMA Show will showcase racing and performance products that excite the industry and keep the market alive. Click here for a complete listing of exhibitors that will have racing and performance products on display at the 2009 SEMA Show.

The SEMA Consumer Demand Index
The July Consumer Demand Index indicated that 8% of drivers intend to purchase racing and performance products in the next three months. This is up from 7% in June and 5% in May. And it is the highest it has been in the last 12 months. Those drivers likely to purchase racing and performance products are most likely to live in urban areas of the Midwest and are most likely to be single.

The July Consumer Demand Index indicated that 8% of drivers intend to purchase racing and performance products in the next three months. 


With assistance from TechnoMetrica, SEMA began developing the SEMA Consumer Demand Index for Performance Products and Accessories (formerly branded PADI) in January 2007. The purpose of the index is to track and help forecast U.S. consumer demand for automotive specialty and performance products, such as appearance products and accessories, racing and performance products and wheels, tires and suspension products. Download the Consumer Demand Index.

Racing and performance products are at the very core of the specialty-equipment market. When SEMA was founded in 1963 as the Speed Equipment Manufacturers Association, the founding members created an organization to represent manufacturers of racing and performance-related products. Today, of course, there are more than 7,100 SEMA-member companies, and they represent more than just racing and performance parts. However, the industry will probably always be most closely associated with its roots in speed and performance.

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