A group of SEMA-member manufacturers recently descended on the Chinese capitol of Beijing, for the second annual SEMA China International Auto Parts Expo (CIAPE) China Business Development Program—an intensive three days of networking and one-on-one meetings with Chinese buyers from 24 cities throughout China. The 2011 delegation of U.S. companies represented a broad range of products, including engine performance, interior and exterior appearance products, suspension and handling upgrades and mobile electronics. The goals of the participants included meeting potential customers, getting a better understanding of consumer brand awareness, evaluating distribution channels for their products and identifying vehicles on Chinese roads for which they should develop new product applications.
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This is the second in a two-part series on the Middle East Market—specifically the market in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the five neighboring countries comprising the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), which are Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. A number of factors make this market of 7.3 million vehicles particularly attractive, including the high regard for U.S. products and considerable discretionary income. SEMA members making products for light trucks and American musclecars will find strong demand for those applications.
Some of the fastest-growing markets in recent years have been in the Middle East—the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the five neighboring countries comprising the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), which are Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. The specialty-equipment markets in the region are in their infancy, and U.S. manufacturers have the opportunity to get into these respective markets during these exciting early days.
The SUV and luxury segments will be the main drivers of growth in China’s auto market this year as it shrugs off a slow few months and returns to steady growth, analysts said. That’s good news for SEMA members. Buyers of luxury cars and SUVs—many of which are luxury SUVs—have money to spend on customizing their vehicles, and a growing desire to do so.
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Nearly 25% of all buyers expected at the 2011 SEMA Show will come from more than 100 nations outside the United States.
Registration is strong from buyers from countries and regions around the world, including Canada, Mexico, Australia, Brazil, China, Germany, Scandinavia, the United Arab Emirates, Venezuela and the United Kingdom. SEMA offers a variety of programs and resources to link Show exhibitors with these international distributors and retailers.
In a closely watched case, a German court has, for the second time in two years, sided with a consumer who sued for the right to install aftermarket carbon-fiber wheels on his motorcycle. The German state of Baden-Württemberg denied the consumer an operating license, with the following note in the appeal documents: “Upon retrofitting carbon fiber wheels, the motorcycle no longer conforms” and “the operating permit of the individual vehicle is forfeited pursuant to the German Road Traffic Admission Regulation….”
A growing number of Chinese are looking to explore their country’s rougher regions by going off-road, and Jeep sales in China are surging. But China’s terrain is apparently rougher than that found in the United States—or perhaps Chinese drivers are just more radical—because U.S.-built Jeeps are not durable enough for China, an engineer with Chrysler in China told SEMA. That could be an opportunity for SEMA members.
Scott Wood couldn’t have imagined that being named the Time magazine 2010 Dealer of the Year would be his ticket to China, but it was. Wood, who owns Chevrolet and Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep dealerships in the small town of Batesville, Arkansas, was invited to China to give a presentation to Chinese car dealers on selling accessories in dealerships. Wood sells quite a few Jeep accessories, so he naturally illustrated his presentation with examples of Mopar and aftermarket-branded Jeep accessories.
Despite some negative press lately due to drug violence, Mexico remains an important market for U.S. automakers and for SEMA members. Pickup brands from the United States are very popular. The economy in Mexico grew by 5.5% in 2010, and that economic growth is lifting personal incomes and growing the middle class. Those factors have created a growing market for SEMA members’ products.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is less than 40 years old and known as one of the most vibrant and passionate car-enthusiast markets in the world. Dubai, Abu Dhabi and the five other Emirates that make up the UAE offer exciting vehicle customizing markets by many measures. Per capita, the country boasts the largest number of motorsports facilities in the world, and a quick drive in Dubai or Abu Dhabi will delight any gearhead with the wide variety of customized vehicles plying its modern roads.