Below is this week’s list of SEMA Show 2007 exhibitors offering products to project-vehicle builders for free or at a discounted rate.
Filler for eNews
As summer approaches, consumers are buying vehicles that reflect their outdoor-loving lifestyles, and the purchase of convertible SUVs is growing in popularity among many of these drivers. SEMA-member Newport Convertible Engineering, a Placentia, California-based custom shop, has been taking the tops off of new FJ Cruisers and Hummer H3s for its customers for some time now, which the company says is a growing trend.
The Initial Quality Study (IQS) released by J.D Power and Associates each year measures vehicle quality at 90 days of ownership. Problems experienced by vehicle owners are separated into two categories: quality of design and quality of production (defects and malfunctions).
“Over the past 20 years, the automotive industry has improved in quality at a rate of 6% per year on average—a 20-year improvement rate of more than 120%,” the report states, adding that every seven to eight years, problem counts have been reduced by 50%.
MAXAIR, ATMI Inc. has developed a new tire-pressure monitoring system for light vehicles, called MAXAIR, which automatically inflates under-inflated tires on equipped vehicles while in transit. The company says that its new technology could help reduce the 30,000 accidents and 660 deaths that are blamed on under-inflated tires every year in the United States, as well as help save drivers a potential $5 billion in gas and reduce CO2 emissions by 250 pounds per car annually by improving gas mileage 3.3%.
Automakers are increasing their use of “environmental-friendly” materials in vehicle interiors, according to a recent WardsAuto.com article. The article notes that one of the hottest “eco-friendly” interior materials is soybeans, which in the form of soybean oil can be used in place of petroleum polyols to create foam for headrests, armrests and seat cushions.
A recent study by the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) found that if a select 10% of the U.S. commercial fleet vehicle population switched to propane, the country could displace nearly 1 billion gallons of gasoline annually by 2017.
Gas prices are averaging $3.20 across the United States, and the cost for a gallon of gasoline is likely to remain high. Lynn Westfall, chief economist for Tesoro, recently told BusinessWeek that consumers have already spent $20 billion more on gasoline this year than last—a considerable dent in their disposable incomes.
Gasoline prices continuing to hover well over $3 per gallon helped to entice more U.S. drivers to buy more cars than light trucks last month. In fact, May 2002 marked the last time cars outsold light trucks. Of the 1,555,374 new light vehicles sold in May, 778,651 were cars and 776,723 were light trucks.
New-vehicle buyers are increasingly demanding customized vehicle interiors that make their vehicles feel uniquely theirs, according to a recent WardsAuto.com article. The trend spans newly licensed “Echo Boomers” to well-experienced baby boomers. However, the latter is more concerned with comfort while the former want different interior colors for their personalization needs, commented Erich Merkle, IRN Inc. director of forecasting, in the WardsAuto.com article.