SEMA News—August 2012
By Jason Catullo
Creating Export Opportunities
New Initiative Provides Access to Popular International Vehicles for Product Development
The Toyota HiLux is among the best-selling vehicles in the world—hitting more than 14 million units sold in 135 countries worldwide since its introduction. The 1-ton, double-cab, 4x4 pickup benefits from a reputation for reliability and sturdiness, and offers performance and appearance customization opportunities for a wide range of specialty-equipment manufacturers.
While not available in the United States, the HiLux is a top seller in key countries and regions that include Australia, New Zealand, Europe, South Africa, Central America and the Middle East. The global popularity of the HiLux, combined with its natural fit for specialty products, makes the vehicle an ideal candidate to launch one of the latest programs from SEMA’s international department.
The focus of the new initiative is to provide SEMA members with access to vehicles that are popular overseas but are not available for sale in the United States. To kick off the program, SEMA recently purchased and imported a ’12 Toyota HiLux to the United States. Members are to get hands-on opportunities with the vehicle through one of three SEMA Measuring Sessions set to take place in the West Coast, Midwest and East Coast.
SEMA Measuring Sessions provide members with a chance to scan, measure and photograph vehicles to assist manufacturers in producing products in a timely manner without incurring the cost of obtaining the vehicle. With an emphasis on helping produce products with a “factory fit,” Measuring Session participants are allowed to crawl in and around the vehicle, remove parts as needed and take photographs.
“The program was created to assist members in overcoming a traditional hurdle—gaining access to vehicles found only overseas,” said SEMA Director of International and Government Relations Linda Spencer. “The program is made possible by a Department of Commerce Market Development Cooperator Program award from the U.S. government, which is working in partnership with SEMA to identify and create export opportunities for SEMA members.”
The Toyota HiLux was selected by SEMA members as the vehicle to help kick off a new SEMA export initiative to provide companies with access to vehicles that are popular overseas but are not sold in the United States.
Through the award—which is part of the National Export Initiative—SEMA is receiving $500,000 in matching funds over a three-year period to support U.S. manufacturers that export products to booming and emerging international markets. SEMA was selected from among nearly 50 applicants based on factors such as export success, performance measurement and partnership potential with the Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration.
The first Measuring Session for the HiLux took place on July 31 at SEMA headquarters in Diamond Bar, California. It will be followed by an August 14 session at the Link Engineering facility in Dearborn, Michigan. The final session will be held on August 22 at Clemson University in Greenville, South Carolina. In addition to the three Measuring Sessions, members will also be able to host the vehicle at their shops for measurement and fitment checks.
Another aspect of the new program is to provide members access to vehicles available only overseas is SEMA’s partnership with A2Mac1. Established in 1998, A2Mac1 provides benchmarking services and software to the automotive industry. The company supports nearly every OEM and more than 50 parts suppliers by providing its large portfolio of services that includes auto show coverage, vehicle teardown, reverse engineering, 2-D, 3-D and Body-in-White special studies.
Participants in the Toyota HiLux Measuring Sessions will not only gain access to the vehicle, but will also be provided with complete HiLux data and information for product development, engineering, installation, service, customization and marketing. The information provided through A2Mac1 will also include specifications and photos of the HiLux. To provide further support for members, A2Mac1 General Manager Mike Fairbanks will attend the Measuring Sessions in Diamond Bar and Dearborn.
To sign up now for one of the three sessions, visit www.SEMA.org/international and click on the “Toyota HiLux Measuring Session” link in the upper left corner of the page. For additional information, contact Linda Spencer at email@example.com.