SEMA News—September 2011

New Vehicle Technology Center to Debut at the SEMA Show

Campus Will House Seminars, Interactive Displays and Simulations


     From suspension to powertrains and from safety to infotainment, technology is the future of the automobile.
A significantly expanded vehicle technology program will be revealed through the advanced SEMA Vehicle Technology Center (VTC) platform, theater and exhibit in the upper South Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center at the 2011 SEMA Show. The VTC will showcase SEMA solutions with educational seminars as well as technology simulations and demonstrations to introduce member companies to the benefits of SEMA vehicle technology programs and partners.
Technology is integral to the specialty-equipment market as well as to the original-equipment manufacturers. From suspension to powertrains and from safety to infotainment, technology is the future of the automobile.

SEMA continually works to develop vehicle technology solutions and build relationships that foster collaboration between the automakers, original-equipment suppliers, dealers, research organizations, industry associations and member companies. The association’s development of the new SEMA Vehicle Technology Center (VTC) at the SEMA Show is an important extension of that effort, providing members with in-depth information and hands-on understanding from leading industry experts about advanced vehicle technologies and emerging systems to help them understand the impact on their business today as well as to prepare them to leverage tomorrow’s technologies and business opportunities.

“The Vehicle Technology Center is being created for our members,” said John Waraniak, SEMA vice president for vehicle technology. “It is an investment in SEMA’s collective future. This year’s SEMA Show will reveal a significantly expanded vehicle technology program through the Center, the VTC Theater and exhibits. The purpose of the VTC is to inform and educate SEMA members as well as to increase member participation in the programs, services, tools, resources and benefits available at affordable costs to SEMA-member companies.”

The VTC will be located in Booth #35185 of the upper South Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center at the 2011 SEMA Show. When it is introduced to industry professionals on opening day during SEMA’s Vehicle Technology Keynote, the VTC will showcase SEMA’s latest solutions and leading educational seminars as well as vehicle technology simulations and demonstrations to introduce member companies to the benefits of SEMA vehicle technology programs and partners.

“It will be a giant step toward providing comprehensive understanding of major vehicle technologies, systems and trends combined with the ability to evaluate their impact on the performance aftermarket and the specialty-equipment industry,” Waraniak said. “The Center’s Tech Zones are designed to reinforce our efforts to appeal to emerging-technology enthusiasts and bring greater focus, urgency and performance aftermarket relevance to our advanced-technology offerings.”

The VTC Theater will provide the venue for seven fast-paced sessions and seminars that will identify and explain key industry trends, technologies and SEMA initiatives. The sessions are designed to help members understand the challenges of advanced vehicle technologies and leverage new business opportunities while also providing networking opportunities for collaborative product-development relationships. They will include more than 30 experts from leading automakers and suppliers as well as specialty-equipment companies involved in all facets of specialty-equipment manufacturing and distribution.

Vehicle Technology Sessions


All of the vehicle technology sessions will be held in the VTC Theater. The sessions will focus on the future of performance and customization, branding performance, marketing to enthusiasts, designing for customization, vehicle dynamics of aftermarket-modified vehicles, green performance, connected-vehicle technologies, performance engines and lubrication and off-road racing. The Center’s exhibit space will highlight SEMA-developed solutions with technology simulations, demonstrations and workshops throughout the week.

Vehicle Dynamics Forum

The first of the workshops—the Vehicle Dynamics Forum—is scheduled for Monday, October 31 (the day before the SEMA Show officially opens) from 1:00 p.m.–3:00 p.m. Attendees of this session must preregister to get specific instructions on how to enter the Show floor and VTC. The panel will include Wilfried Eibach of Eibach Springs; Mark Hellwig and Melanie White of Hellwig Products; Tim Watts of Superlift Suspension Systems; SEMA Advisor Ed Browalski; Thomas Gillespie of Mechanical Simulation; Santhosh Jogi of dSPACE; and Paul Venhovens of CU-ICAR.

The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has issued FMVSS 126, a Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard requiring all motor vehicles with a gross vehicle weight of 10,000 lbs. or less to have an electronic stability control (ESC) system that complies with specific design, performance and diagnostic requirements. Original-equipment manufacturers (OEMs) must have ESC as standard equipment on all applicable vehicles as of September 1, 2011.

Thanks to the efforts of SEMA’s office in Washington, D.C., the aftermarket was granted a one-year exemption. SEMA has developed a methodology and program to evaluate the ESC performance of aftermarket-modified vehicles. SEMA sought outside help from leading industry experts and companies in the area of vehicle dynamics simulation and testing to develop a “best practices” solution to offer member companies, especially considering that any modification to the engine, steering, brakes, suspension, wheels or tires may have an impact on ESC performance.

The Vehicle Dynamics Forum will discuss not only the ESC mandate and solutions available to SEMA-member companies but also other topics that effect how aftermarket wheels, tires, suspension, steering, braking and handling products interact with the vehicle’s increasingly complex body, chassis, powertrain and electronic systems, controllers and technologies.

Vehicle Technology Keynote


The Vehicle Technology Keynote, to be presented Tuesday, November 1 from 9:30 a.m.–11:00 a.m., will feature Paul Mascarenas, chief technical officer and vice president of research and innovation for Ford Motor Company.

Technology has the power to make, move and reshape markets, and it has now led the automobile industry to one of the most exciting times in history for both professionals and consumers—particularly for enthusiasts who have a passion for performance and automotive lifestyles.

“The future of performance and customization in the new automotive normal is all about connecting vehicles to consumer’s lifestyles, brands and experiences,” Waraniak said. “Performance and customization are not just about cars but about lifestyles. This is a new day with new rules and new players, and the specialty-equipment companies with the best consumer experiences win—period.”

Attendees can expect Mascarenas to provide some very interesting insights and compelling views from an automaker’s perspective on the impact of advanced vehicle technology and OEM-aftermarket collaboration on the industry going forward.

Clemson Deep Orange Project

SEMA’s innovative partnership with the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research (CU-ICAR) will be the subject of a press conference at the VTC Theater at 12:00 p.m. Tuesday, November 1. “The Clemson project is an excellent example of open innovation and generative thinking in action,” Waraniak said. “SEMA and CU-ICAR have teamed up to offer SEMA members access to world-class resources at affordable costs. This is a must-attend event for technology and performance professionals.”

Performance Branding: Designing and Marketing to Enthusiasts

On the afternoon of Tuesday, November 1, from 1:00 p.m.–3:00 p.m., the discussion will turn to Performance Branding, Designing and Marketing. Myles Kovacs, co-founder of DUB; Stewart Reed of the Pasadena Art Center; Chip Foose of Foose Design; and Beau Boeckmann, president of Galpin Auto Sports will headline this exciting panel and discussion session on contemporary design and marketing practices and their influence on performance branding and marketing to enthusiasts.

From tires and wheels to smartphone applications that interact with consumer vehicles and onboard technologies, successful designing and marketing to automotive enthusiasts today requires strategies that make customers part of the brand through movements, storytelling and advocacy. This panel will investigate the latest trends in brand democracy and frontline social thinking and explore how consumer expectations are impacting the forms and the functions of vehicles today and in the near term.

“Sure, customers buy your stuff,” Waraniak said, “But more importantly, you need to sell to your fans and enthusiasts what your stuff does for them. Enthusiasts and fans are 10 times more influential than customers.”

The Future of Performance and Customization


Superlift successfully demonstrated HIL compatibility with a federal regulation that mandates a specific level of vehicle handling performance and the functionality of an Electronic Stability Control system for all OEM vehicles with a GVW less than 10,000 lbs. The demonstration at the dSPACE facility in Wixom, Michigan, complemented additional physical tests run at CU-ICAR in Greenville, South Carolina, that further characterized the modified vehicle’s ride and handling. Besides illustrating Superlift’s product engineering expertise, this project also demonstrated the possibilities of a much wider application of HIL and simulation technologies.
“Open innovation, collaboration, personalization and lean customization are quickly becoming best practices and competitive advantages in the new automotive normal,” said Waraniak. “Today’s vehicles are not just a collection of 5,000 loosely integrated parts. They are an interdependent ‘system of systems,’ connecting body, chassis, interior and powertrain through more than 150 controllers and 10 million lines of code and embedded software.”

The auto industry is facing increasingly complex vehicles that require strategic planning and cross-industry product development, and the ways and means by which technology will play out in the coming years is the subject of the Wednesday morning session. The Future of Performance and Customization will be the focus November 2 from 10:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m. at the VTC Theater. The panel will include Stacey David of “Gearz”; Dr. Dean Tomazic of FEV; and Jim Campbell, vice president of performance vehicles and motorsports of General Motors. Other speakers will be added as well.

Vehicle Connectivity: Integrating Automotive and Consumer Electronics

Automotive technology and mobile electronics have extended far beyond the vehicle itself. Onboard vehicle technologies combined with vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-roadside technologies are creating many new and exciting product and service opportunities for specialty-equipment and performance aftermarket manufacturers, installers, retailers and distributors. The session for Wednesday afternoon centers on those concepts.

Vehicle Connectivity is slated for November 2 from 1:00 p.m.–3:00 p.m. in the VCT Theater. Panelists will include Thilo Koslowski of Gartner; Anthony Levandowski of Google; Jessica Steele of Pandora; and Roger Berg of Denso.

“Connected-vehicle technologies are leading the way toward the development of cars that don’t crash, devices that don’t distract and powertrains that don’t pollute,” Waraniak said. “The challenges, opportunities and solutions for SEMA members lie in how effectively these features, devices and accessories can be integrated into today’s vehicles.”

Performance Engines and Lubrication

“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 vehicles to efficiencies that would have been unbelievable just five years ago,” Waraniak said.

Technological advancement has been at the forefront of performance since the earliest days on the dry lakebeds, where hot rodding got its start. This VTC session to be held Thursday from 10:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m. will provide attendees with an overview of the state of performance engine and lubrication technology today and where it is heading in the coming years. The panel includes Lake Speed Jr. of Joe Gibbs Racing; SEMA Board of Directors Chairman Scooter Brothers of Comp Performance Group; Ron Shaver of Shaver Specialty Racing Engines; and John Martin, formerly of Shell Research and Development.

Off-Road Racing and Performance Forum


Hardware-In-the-Loop (HIL) and simulation technologies allow virtual testing of real-world products. SEMA is working to expand an already established electronic stability control/HIL program to the broader range of vehicle dynamics to offer SEMA members the capability to simulate, demonstrate and analyze the impact of their products on improved handling and performance. Such programs will be a featured part of the VTC at this year’s SEMA Show. 
“Innovation is the engine of growth,” said Waraniak. “Growth in the new automotive normal doesn’t lie in disrupting large, over-served markets but in disrupting small under-served markets and emerging segments focused on product differentiation, performance and customization.” The off-road market is one segment that welcomes such differentiation and customization, and the session slated for Thursday, November 3, from 1:00 p.m.–3:00 p.m. in the VCT Theater will address how the industry is evolving in this thriving marketplace. The panel will include motocross and off-road champion Ricky Johnson of TORC and Justyn Amstutz of NPA Auctions, and other speakers to be added.

Project Green Camaro

“Many SEMA companies feared that advanced technologies signaled the demise of the specialty-equipment market and believed that tighter federal emissions and fuel-efficiency standards would eliminate performance vehicles from America’s roadways, but something quite different is happening,” Waraniak said. “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. Horsepower still moves product. Nearly every major automaker now offers a performance car for street use that is as powerful as many of the race cars on the track.”

A special session scheduled for Wednesday, November 2 at 12:00 p.m. in the VTC Theater will feature Source Interlink Media Group Vice President Doug Evans and Circle Track magazine Editor Rob Fisher for a look at the Circle Track Project GREEN Camaro and a discussion of how green technology and performance can not only coexist, but also create new business opportunities.

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