By Linda Spencer
Two SEMA overseas business-development programs taking place this spring in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), April 3–8, and Australia, May 24–28, are rapidly filling up. U.S. government support is available for qualified companies. Slots are limited, so register now.
These two markets/regions were chosen given their top ranking as good prospects for SEMA members based on the following factors:
- Sizable population interested in customizing.
- Discretionary income to afford U.S. specialty-equipment products.
- Vehicle parc (total number of vehicles in the country/region) that fits a manufacturer’s product line or one for which they are willing to make product.
- Legal/regulatory environment allowing customization, or in the case of emerging markets, a willingness by the local government to engage in discussions on developing laws governing modification.
Participants of the 2017 SEMA Middle East trip tour local customizing shops.
Participants can learn the potential for their products in the customizing-crazy UAE and surrounding region (buyers attended the 2017 event from 11 countries). These consumers are eager to get the latest U.S. products for classic-car restoration, off-roading, racing, street performance and aesthetics. High disposable income, coupled with a passion for personalization, make this an attractive region.
Five reasons to consider exporting to the Middle East:
1. Deep pockets. The UAE has one of the world’s highest per capita (ranking sixth worldwide) disposable incomes, and thus the funds to pursue their hobbies.
2. Important market for U.S.-built vehicles. The Saudi Arabian market is the fifth top market for U.S. vehicle sales, and the UAE market ranks eighth. All six of the GCC countries (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE) are in the top 20 destinations for U.S.-made vehicles.
3. Positive perception of U.S. products and culture. In a nod to the popularity of U.S. culture in the region, and the recognition that the UAE has a strong enthusiast base, the Fast and Furious 7 was filmed in the UAE. TV car customizing shows, such as “Pimp My Ride” and “Overhaulin’,” attracted big audiences.
4. Strong car culture and multiple cars per family. The UAE has the most motorsports facilities per capita in the world. Off-roading (primarily on sand) is a national pastime, and the UAE’s national day would not be complete without an all-out classic-car display and parade, including customized vehicles.
5. Similar to the United States market, light trucks are extremely popular in the Middle East. In fact, half of the passenger vehicles on Middle East roads are light trucks, with the Toyota Land Cruiser, Nissan Patrol, Toyota FJ Cruiser, Ford Explorer and Jeep among the top-selling SUVs. Top pickups include the Toyota HiLux, Chevrolet Silverado and Ford F-Series, among others.
April 3: Buyer panel.
April 4: Briefing with U.S. government officials. Visit accessory, performance and off-road retailers and wholesalers. Evening networking event with buyers.
April 5–7: Exhibit at Custom Show Emirates.
April 8: Trip officially over.
Pictured here, TMG Performance Products exhibits at the 2017 SEMA Australia Regional Business Development Conference.
Five reasons to consider Australia:
1. Well established, passionate car culture. Australians and New Zealanders are diehard enthusiasts. It is not far-fetched to estimate that consumers in these two markets spend more per capita than Americans do.
2. On a per-capita basis, Australia is one of the world’s 20 richest countries. Unemployment remains low, and Australia hasn’t had a recession in more than 24 years.
3. The Australian and New Zealand specialty market covers all of the niches found in the United States. This includes off-roading, street performance, racing, styling, classic/vintage and car care.
4. Positive perception of U.S. products. The United States enjoys a strong reputation as a manufacturer of high-quality, well-engineered automotive aftermarket and speciality products. Thanks to a free-trade agreement between the United States and Australia, U.S. products enter the market duty-free. Australia is also an important market for U.S.-built vehicles; Australia imported 42,000 vehicles from the United States in the first eight months of last year, making it the sixth-highest destination for U.S.-built vehicles.
5. Half of the vehicles sold annually in Australia are SUVs and pickups (or “utes” as Australians call them).
May 24: Buyer panel.
May 25: Briefing with U.S. government officials. Visit accessory, performance and off-road retailers and wholesalers.
May 26–27: Exhibit at MotorEx.
May 28: Trip officially over.
For more information on either trip contact Linda Spencer at email@example.com.