SEMA News—June 2021

Strategic Priorities For the Year(s) Ahead

By Chris Kersting

Chris Kersting

Earlier this year, the SEMA Board of Directors met for the purpose of reviewing and updating the organization’s strategic priorities. Consensus was achieved regarding a range of important challenges and opportunities facing the industry.

Leading off the future challenges is complex automotive technology. SEMA members are going to require access to a broad range of information, tools and testing capabilities to properly design and integrate modification equipment on the vehicles of today and tomorrow. The SEMA Board has authorized investment in personnel, equipment and testing capabilities so that our industry will have what it takes to develop and offer products that are compatible with new vehicle safety and powertrain systems. Better still, we are locating those resources in Michigan in the form of the recently announced SEMA Garage & Emissions Compliance Center—Detroit.

The Detroit Garage will provide members with comprehensive information about advanced driver-assistance systems and other new vehicle technologies and provide a means to test and confirm compatibility of modification parts with this technology. The SEMA Garage Detroit location will put expert personnel in the midst of car makers and their suppliers, testing facilities and a wealth of engineering expertise—all as opportunities for establishing relationships, tools, information sharing and partnerships that will help SEMA members bridge the gap.

A second area of strategic concern is the need for stepped-up government affairs capabilities. With the change of control in Washington, D.C., supporting a more aggressive focus on climate change and new automotive technologies, the association needs to step up its support for the American love affair with the automobile—in all its lifestyle and hobby forms—and ensure that it is not ploughed under in the rush toward innovation.

The Board’s strategic priorities include adding expert government affairs staff, providing new and easier ways to generate political action committee contributions, and undertaking broad grassroots organization and information campaigns to inform legislators and policy makers of the importance of the automotive hobbies and the industry behind them.

One matter of especially high priority in the government affairs arena is emissions regulation and enforcement. SEMA is increasing resources and efforts to assist the industry. The association staff is working intensively with both the federal U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the California Air Resources Board to modernize compliance regulations and reduce impediments to industry compliance. One recent breakthrough was the issuance of the EPA’s updated emissions compliance policy—a simplified approach for performance manufacturers to demonstrate compliance with the law. SEMA Garage staff is on hand to help members understand this change in the law and how to take advantage of it (

In response to stepped-up EPA enforcement, the SEMA Board recently authorized funds to join litigation efforts and fight the EPA’s position against converting street cars for racing and the sale and use of necessary performance equipment. On this same issue, funds have also been authorized to increase SEMA’s resources and tools to help pass the RPM Act.

This issue of SEMA News includes a feature section to help members understand the emissions-related laws and regulations and to learn about the people, tools and testing facilities SEMA offers to help our members. The SEMA Garage Emissions Lab is the heart of the operation, and soon we will have additional emissions testing facilities at the new Detroit SEMA Garage.

These initiatives are by no means all that the Board has included in its strategic planning, but they are an important slice of the overall vision to protect and further future opportunities for the industry and enthusiasts alike.

As always, SEMA will continue to evolve the annual SEMA Show and PRI Trade Show to be indispensable industry gatherings that are responsive to the members’ needs. We’ll have more on this as the months roll forward, but for now, we can be optimistic that once again these industry events will power business momentum toward a growth year in 2022.

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