International

Global Media Awards

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For the sixth year, a panel of top automotive journalists from 15 countries throughout Asia, Europe, South Africa and South America served on the SEMA Global Media Awards (GMA) panel. 

SEMA recognizes that automotive personalization and customization is growing worldwide. Though the appeal of making cars and trucks fit one’s lifestyle has strong roots in the United States, this enthusiast attitude is universal—and growing. SEMA introduced the Global Media Award program in 2004 to highlight the wide appeal to enthusiasts on every continent of specialty-equipment products that are on display at the SEMA Show.

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SEMA Partners With GM Middle East

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To highlight the customization possibilities of the just-released Chevy Cruze in the United Arab Emirates, GM Middle East and SEMA partnered to customize two of the all-new compact global cars. SEMA enlisted two top designers to work on the projects. 

Myles Kovacs, founder and publisher of DUB magazine, undertook the design of one of the vehicles, which was customized with a lifestyle theme and nicknamed “The Blackhawk Cruze.” Ryan Friedlinghaus, star of MTV’s original “Pimp My Ride” and known for his West Coast Customs (WCC) brand and popular “Street Customs” show, went all out to create a motorsports-themed version of the vehicle.

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Laws on a Global Scale

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Specialty-equipment companies have begun utilizing new tools made available to businesses to ensure that the sale and use of accessories and performance products currently marketed in Europe are allowed to be freely sold throughout the continent. Concerned that national governments were either banning products or adding local requirements in violation of the Mutual Recognition Treaty, the European Parliament implemented measures in May 2009 to promote a single market for automotive specialty equipment. The measures would restrict national decisions that prevent products lawfully manufactured in one member state from being sold within the borders of the others. The new regulations also created resources—including designated points of contact in each country—for businesses to use in case of problems.

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Australian Specialty Market

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SEMA News recently talked with Stuart Charity, executive director of the nearly 30-year-old Australian Automotive Aftermarket Association (AAAA), and Ben Bartlett, the AAAA’s national membership manager, about the Australian specialty-equipment market amid increasingly positive news that Australia is well on its way to an economic recovery. There are indications that the automotive industry there has begun to rebound, and the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries reported growing vehicle sales—with particularly strong SUV sales—and overall sales for the year are expected to reach up to 900,000 in 2009. Spurred by tax rebates for business purchases of vehicles and increased purchasing as growing confidence by consumers increases, the sales gap will be much less than feared just several months ago, although the total isn’t expected to reach the record-setting 1.05 million achieved in 2007.

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Gaizhuang - The Specialty-Equipment Market in China

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Thirteen SEMA-member companies recently traveled to Beijing, China, for a firsthand look at the developing Chinese market for specialty products—or, as referred to in Chinese, Gaizhuang.

In its infancy, the Chinese market for performance and accessory products is not so unlike the U.S. market of 40 or 50 years ago. On one hand, it is brimming with opportunity as millions of consumers develop a growing taste (and the necessary disposable income) for vehicle personalization. But a closer look at the market reveals a sector riddled with sporadic government crackdowns on car modifications (in Shanghai in 2007 and most recently in Beijing); numerous performance products still technically illegal; far-flung population centers only partially served by the fragmented network of distributors; and the presence of frequent intellectual-property violations. It’s essential that companies take the necessary steps to minimize their potential IPR vulnerability in China and worldwide. Yet, despite this, the delegation overwhelmingly concluded that the largest mistake SEMA members could make would be to underestimate the market and the potential it holds for many SEMA members.

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Global: Legislative/Regulatory Update

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This is the latest periodic roundup of legislative/regulatory developments in key global markets. This edition includes updates from Europe, Australia and the global harmonization body looking at creating uniform standards for a range of products—including automotive aftermarket products—under the auspices of the United Nations. SEMA members may contact Linda Spencer for more information on any of these issues.

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International Insight

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SEMA Newsis interviewing top distributors/retailers in China in a series of monthly articles to introduce the larger players in the evolving specialty-equipment market in China to the magazine’s readers. The distributor chosen for this month’s international insight into China is Hangzhou Xin-Works, also known as X Jeep 4WD. Hangzhou Xin-Works is a distributor, installer/retailer and importer of off-road specialty products. The company was established in 2003 and currently employs 16 people.

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