By Amanda Gubbins
Specialty-equipment manufacturers received early, hands-on access to the all-new ’17 Honda Ridgeline during this week’s measuring session at the SEMA Garage in Diamond Bar, California.
As part of SEMA’s initiative to ease the product-development process for members, the SEMA Garage provides early access to new vehicles, giving companies a jump on collecting the vehicle data needed for designing and developing products. It’s also a chance for manufacturers to have some face time with OEM representatives.
Honda hopes that excitement within the aftermarket community will help build momentum during the launch of the second-generation Ridgeline. Honda team members were on site at the Garage to assist upwards of 50 SEMA-member companies with technical questions and product disassembly for measuring. While Honda has partnered with SEMA for many measuring sessions over the years, this one was earlier than most—just six weeks after the Ridgeline’s global reveal in Detroit—and broke attendance records for a Honda product.
“The measuring session itself is a great opportunity not only for SEMA membership to gauge what’s going to go on with the Ridgeline but for us to gauge what SEMA membership would like to do with the Ridgeline,” said Chris Martin, Honda’s western regional public relations manager.
The public’s first glimpse at the styling of the second-generation Ridgeline was at the 2015 SEMA Show, where the company unveiled a Baja race truck concept—a choice that nodded at Honda’s core racing business. The ’17 Ridgeline will hit dealerships this spring, and SEMA Show attendees can expect to see more of the pickup in Honda’s booth at the 2016 Show as well, said Martin.
Honda continues to tout the in-bed trunk and dual-action tailgate that consumers are familiar with from the first-generation Ridgeline. The ’17 model has a more refined interior and new torque vectoring all-wheel-drive system. It also offers an in-bed speaker system compatible with Bluetooth. Session attendees represented customization opportunities for all these features, in addition to manufacturing performance parts for under the hood, suspension, wheels and electronics.
Michael Nazareno, K&N’s air filter applications product coordinator, was on hand to measure the pickup’s filters. The company’s goal when attending measuring sessions is to see if any of their current applications are compatible with the new vehicles or if new products need to be developed. This information ultimately helps them to have applications available as soon as new vehicles hit the market.
“When SEMA brings the cars for everybody to check and get our hands on, we can do whatever we need to. Most of the time they have the engineers here, too. If we have any questions we always go straight to them and they can help us out,” said Nazareno.
SEMA’s measuring session program has seen significant growth over the last couple of years, and the Garage is on track to host more vehicles this year than ever before, serving a wide range of members, according to Senior Director of OEM Relations Jim Moore. Two more vehicles will be at the Garage next week: the ’17 Audi R8 V10, Tuesday, March 1, and the ’16 Ford Focus RS, Wednesday–Thursday, March 2–3. Measuring sessions are available to SEMA-member manufacturers at no charge. Learn more and register online.