SEMA News—January 2013
By Linda Spencer
International Vehicle Measuring Program Puts Global Vehicles in the Hands of U.S. Manufacturers
C.R. Laurence Co. Inc. won two Global Media Awards at this year’s SEMA Show for the new Powr-Slider for the 1-ton Toyota HiLux—a vehicle-specific application for a truck the company had never even seen until three months before the Las Vegas event. That is because the vehicle, wildly popular around the world, isn’t available in the United States.
Despite talk about vehicles becoming uniform from market to market, some of the hottest global vehicles are currently not sold in the United States. Examples include the HiLux, new Ford Ranger T6, Chevy Trailblazer and VW Amarok, which are all widely available on every continent but are not sold in the United States or Canada.
A new SEMA program was launched in July 2012 to assist U.S. companies in gaining access to vehicles found only overseas. The program delivers the opportunity for members to measure and scan these vehicles in order to make new export-ready products. The HiLux was the first to be provided in a SEMA Measuring Session held at SEMA’s headquarters in Diamond Bar, California.
“Prior to the SEMA Measuring Session, we did not have access to the truck,” said John M. La Bare, C.R. Laurence vice president of automotive sales, still marveling at how well his company’s new products were received at the 2012 SEMA Show.
A buyer from South Africa said that he came to the Show looking for products to sell but hadn’t considered the Powr-Slider for the popular HiLux until he saw it in Las Vegas. Another buyer from Italy said that he saw the Powr-Slider in the SEMA Show’s Ideas Alive: Featuring the New Product Showcase displays and was ready to place an order. The Powr-Slider was also selected by two leading international journalists who thought that the C.R. Laurence product was one of the top 10 new items at the SEMA Show that would resonate in their own home markets of Panama and Venezuela.
2011 Toyota HiLux Sales (Top 15 Countries)
Country / 2011 Sales
Companies That Developed New HiLux Products and Displayed Them at the 2012 SEMA Show:
The new SEMA program was launched through a partnership with the U.S. Department of Commerce, and the ’12 4x4 double-cab HiLux arrived in the United States in mid-July. To date, more than 100 SEMA-member manufacturers have measured or are in a queue to measure the 1-ton pickup, which is currently available in 135 countries. The vehicle has since criss-crossed the United States, beginning with the Measuring Session at SEMA headquarters and then moving on to a Link Engineering facility in Dearborn, Michigan, and Clemson University in Greenville, South Carolina. Manufacturers may also host the vehicle in their shops for additional fitments.
The sessions have drawn parts producers from across the industry, including manufacturers of wheels and tires, suspension products, engine performance enhancements, audio, exterior and interior components and more. The project is already drawing praise from participants and resulting in new products being put on the market.
With 14 million units sold since its initial launch, the HiLux was chosen by SEMA-member manufacturers as the first vehicle to enter the SEMA program because of its popularity overseas and for the variety of opportunities it presents for specialty equipment and accessories. The applications range from off-road components and utility products to items that enhance interior comfort and convenience. The vehicle was the best-selling light truck in Europe for the fifth year running and is the best-selling car or truck overall in markets such as Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Saudi Arabia. It is equally popular throughout Latin America.
In the short time since the vehicle arrived in the United States, 18 SEMA-member companies have already created products, all of which were displayed at the 2012 SEMA Show (see sidebar below). In addition, two new vehicles will be available to members early in 2013: a ’13 Ford Ranger and a ’13 Chevy Trailblazer. Both vehicles are expected to be widely sold but are not intended for the U.S. market—at least not yet.
What Members Are Saying About the Program
“One of the major challenges that we face as an international supplier is development of our products to fit trucks not sold in the United States. Nothing can compare with having the actual truck available for our engineers to study. In addition to the engineering benefit, it was great for our employees to see the final application, since most of them never get to experience what we do internationally.”
—Debbie Sweet, Penda
“We manufacture suspension kits and being able to actually look at the vehicle is very valuable. We were able to measure key dimensions and clearances on the suspension and take pictures of both the rear and the front. We have never been able to directly measure the HiLux before. All of our design data has come from working with components only. This is more
difficult, time consuming and costly.”
—Brian Skipper, Sway-A-Way
“The SEMA International Vehicle Measuring Program is a great opportunity to have access to vehicles that would otherwise not be feasible to develop product for. With the availability of the vehicle in-house, it’s going to be easy to expand our offerings.”
—Eric Schuling, Dee Zee Inc.
“When overseas customers place orders for our company’s rims, the customer really doesn’t know if they will fit the specific vehicle or not. Through this measuring program, we gather and keep data in our company-wide system and are able to retrieve it and give our customers answers in seconds instead of weeks.”
—Frank Dobler, Ultra Wheel
“After looking at the HiLux SEMA made available to us, we see that we have a product that would fit the truck but was not listed as such in our database. So this will be a new application to K&N, and we will now list the application on our website and database.”
—Travis Ginter, K&N Engineering Inc.
“As a U.S. manufacturer, AMP Research has been expanding its reach into international markets where HiLux trucks represent a significant customer base. Our research has shown that high-quality, American-made products are valued. Gaining access to the HiLux has given AMP engineers critical hands-on time with the truck that has sped up both the design and product-development processes.”
—Mark Wronski, AMP Research
“The Measuring Session program helped us in a couple ways—one is by test-fitting products that we previously developed. And if we don’t have the product ready yet, we can develop it with the measurements. Definitely if SEMA can offer Measuring Sessions and or CAD files for the popular new international trucks, it will increase our application list and, consequently, elevate our international sales.”
—Judith Nehring, Rugged Liner
“In previous years we have had buyers from South America come in our booth and ask for an air spring helper kit for the Toyota HiLux truck. Because of previous interest in this truck at past SEMA Shows, we decided to develop a kit for the truck when SEMA presented this new measurement program to us. Firestone Industrial Products is planning to release the Toyota HiLux air spring helper kit in the first quarter of 2013.”
—Richard Myers, Firestone Industrial Products
“Earlier this year, I had the chance to measure the HiLux at a SEMA Measuring Session in Diamond Bar, California. We found this to be very useful. We now have a buyer in Venezuela that is very interested in our running boards for this vehicle. We’re going to pursue this!”
—Kevin Moss, ATS Design