SEMA News—July 2022

INDUSTRY NEWS

SEMA Industry Report: Specialty-Equipment Sales Surpass Pre-Pandemic Levels

Market Report

Consumer demand for automotive specialty-equipment parts has exceeded pre-pandemic levels for a majority of companies, according to the latest SEMA “State of the Industry Report.”

The automotive specialty-equipment industry continues to experience strong growth and demand as the United States puts COVID-19 in the rearview mirror. According to SEMA’s new “State of the Industry—Spring 2022” report, 75% of manufacturers, 68% of distributors and 53% of retailers/installers report that sales are currently above where they were prior to the pandemic, and consumer demand is equally higher for most companies than it was in 2019.

Additional key findings from the report include:

  • More than half of companies expect sales to continue to grow in the coming year.
  • Supply-chain issues remain a challenge for more than 90% of the industry, and most don’t see things returning to normal until at least 2023.
  • The current inflation rate of 8.5% is the highest it has been in 40 years, yet consumers continue to spend.
  • Amid record consumer demand, 70% of manufacturers, 56% of distributors and 45% of retail installers have had difficulty filling open positions due to a shortage of qualified applicants to hire.

For more details, see our coverage starting on page 34. The complete “State of the Industry” report is available to download for free at www.sema.org/research.

BMW Invests in Smart Technologies to Identify Counterfeit Parts

BMW

Counterfeit auto parts are a growing challenge for the aftermarket, but cloud-based smart technologies may soon provide a solution.

Counterfeit automotive parts are a growing problem confronting the specialty-equipment aftermarket. They’re also a huge global business. A recent estimate from the U.S. Department of Commerce puts the value of trafficking in fake parts at some $45 billion annually. The problem becomes even more acute in the online retail arena; according to Amazon, the company confiscated more than two million counterfeit products in 2020 alone. But a potential solution may soon be at hand.

BMW iVentures, the investment arm of BMW, has made a substantial investment in a company that uses what it calls “digital fingerprinting” technology to detect fake parts. Altheon, a technology company based in Washington state, uses its proprietary FeaturePrint software and cloud computing capabilities to compile a database of legitimate production parts, which can then be used to compare to parts of unknown origin. With a single camera image, retailers and distributors can know whether the parts they are being sold are in fact legitimate or counterfeit.

For the present, Altheon operates in only the B2B and B2C realms, but it aims to make its software available to the public in the future via a downloadable smartphone app. More information is available at www.altheon.com.

Registration Open for SEMA Nordic Trip

Nordic

The Nordic region hosts a thriving automotive enthusiast scene. Join SEMA this summer for the inaugural SEMA Nordic trip.

Join SEMA on the first SEMA Nordic trip, August 24–28, in Stockholm, Sweden. Participants will learn the potential for their products in this performance and classic-car paradise. Meet with top trade buyers enabling the half-century-old craze in Sweden and the surrounding countries of Norway, Finland and Denmark to restore and upgrade American classic cars. Trade buyers are expected from throughout Europe.

Performance is among the top upgrades sought for a range of vehicles. The region hosts the headquarters of the European drag-racing championship, and rally racing and drifting also have their passionate fans. High disposable income and a love of American vehicles and products, coupled with a passion for personalization, make this an attractive region.

The SEMA Nordic trip is the fifth region for the popular SEMA Business Development Programs. These low-cost, turnkey overseas events bring together SEMA-member manufacturers and buyers from key global markets. The price of the upcoming trip includes hotel accommodations, a table-top display, meals and networking events. Prices start at $3,860 per company, not including flights to/from the United States (for qualified companies taking the instant $1,200 U.S. government grant).

More information is available at www.sema.org/nordic, or contact Linda Spencer at lindas@sema.org to schedule a call.

Goodyear to Develop Domestic Source of Natural Rubber

Goodyear

Goodyear announced a partnership with the U.S. Defense Department and other government agencies to develop a domestic source of rubber from a species of dandelion.

The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company announced a multi-year, multi-million-dollar program supported by the U.S. Department of Defense, the Air Force Research Lab and BioMade to work with Ohio-based Farmed Materials to develop a domestic source of natural rubber from a specific species of dandelion.

Natural rubber has been classified as a strategic raw material that serves as a critical ingredient in military, aircraft and truck tires. Today, more than 90% of the world’s natural rubber is made from latex derived from rubber trees and is primarily sourced from tropical locations outside of the United States.

The program will build on research that analyzed more than 2,500 species of plants but found only a few with properties suitable for use in tires. Taraxacum kok-saghyz, a species of dandelion known as TKS, is a proven alternative to natural rubber trees. Farmed Materials has shown positive results in pilot programs for TKS, yielding strong harvests that necessitate the need for additional funding.

While rubber trees typically take seven years to produce the latex needed for rubber production, dandelions can be harvested every six months. TKS dandelions are also resilient and can grow in non-tropical climates. If additional testing provides promising results, Goodyear sees potential for use in all tire applications.

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