SEMA News—September 2013
By John Waraniak
Vehicle Technology Matters More Than Ever
The Vehicle Technology Center (VTC) held a prominent position in the Grand Lobby of the Las Vegas Convention Center at the 2012 SEMA Show, drawing greater attention and attendance than ever before. The VTC and Technology Briefing Seminar (TBS) program will be returning to the 2013 SEMA Show, providing attendees with new levels of education through the program’s vehicle technology keynotes, briefing sessions and workshops.
The association’s vehicle technology programs, initiatives and relationships are investments in SEMA’s collective future. The purpose of the VTC and the accompanying TBS program is to inform SEMA members about the latest vehicle technologies and introduce them to the programs, resources, partners, solutions and benefits available to them at affordable costs as well as show them how to protect their businesses in the face of disruptive and advanced technological change. Advanced vehicle technologies are integral to both the relevance and the future of SEMA. To ignore their impact is a fundamental mistake. Disruptive technologies don’t totally eliminate existing vehicle technologies, but they do often eliminate unprepared businesses and companies.
The VTC and TBS Program are designed to connect members to the benefits of SEMA-developed vehicle technology solutions and partnerships and help them understand the impact on their businesses today as well as prepare them to compete and leverage tomorrow’s technologies and new business opportunities. Locating the VTC in the Grand Lobby helps to position advanced vehicle technology challenges, solutions and opportunities at the front and center of members’ minds and attention.
The center’s exhibit space at the 2013 SEMA Show will once again be located in the Grand Lobby and will highlight SEMA-developed solutions, our technology partners, vehicle system demonstrations and workshops throughout the week. The VTC provides members with valuable resources, and the TBS keynotes, forum panels and workshops are must-attend education sessions for serious technology enthusiasts and performance professionals committed to developing technology roadmaps and business plans focused on future-proofing their survival and growth.
Disruptive technologies don’t totally eliminate existing vehicle technologies, but they do often eliminate unprepared businesses and companies.
In the April 2013 advanced vehicle technology edition of SEMA News, I posed a couple of questions: Does the automotive specialty-equipment industry have five years left? And what is SEMA doing with its vehicle technology programs and partners to help members be successful and protect the performance industry?
Technology constantly creates changes to vehicles and, consequently, to specialty-equipment businesses. Advanced vehicle technologies, shifting market segments and changing consumer behaviors continue to drive new business opportunities and performance-product innovations in the specialty-equipment industry. We will focus on several key trends in this year’s VTC and TBS program as our industry moves through and beyond the next five years. Vehicle technology is at the top of the performance aftermarket trending list and matters more than ever.
Vehicle Technology Center Theater Keynotes, Forums and Workshops
The VTC Tech-Zones and TBS program are designed around four megatrends driving the automotive performance aftermarket: Driving Green, Driving Connected, Driving Safe and Driving Cool. The Tech-Zones are designed to be relevant to today’s enthusiasts as well as appeal to tomorrow’s next generation of performance and technology enthusiasts, designers, engineers and marketers. They bring greater focus to current and emerging performance-product developments and aftermarket opportunities.
This year’s roster of keynotes, forum panels and workshop topics includes a wide range of high-profile speakers representing a global who’s who in the OEM, technology-provider and performance aftermarket communities. It also includes experts and leaders in vehicle and system technologies, mobile youth and lifestyle trends and performance branding as well as those at the forefront of the entrepreneurial spirit that continues to drive the automotive specialty-equipment industry.
Three vehicle technology keynotes, four forum panel sessions and two SEMA-Clemson workshops will be held in the VTC Theater. The keynotes, sessions and workshops will focus on vehicle dynamics and emissions of aftermarket-modified vehicles, racing and performance, green-performance product development, connected-vehicle technologies, performance branding and next-generation enthusiasts. The center’s exhibit space will highlight vehicle technology simulations and demonstrations from SEMA technology partners that include Clemson University, CarSim, dSPACE and Link Engineering as well as Gen-6 vehicles from NASCAR, Icon’s ’47 Chevy Thriftmaster and Neil Young’s new ’59 Lincvolt.
Vehicle Dynamics Forum
The first of the forum panel sessions, the Vehicle Dynamics Forum, is scheduled for Monday, November 4 (the day before the SEMA Show officially opens), from 1:00 p.m.–3:00 p.m. in the VTC Theater. September 1, 2012, marked the date requiring aftermarket companies to comply with the U.S. Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) 126 for electronic stability control (ESC) systems. The NHTSA also recently defined five levels of vehicle automation that will be part of the forum discussion.
SEMA’s Vehicle Dynamics Program and participating member companies have made significant achievements over the past five years in helping members customize with confidence and understand how their performance products—suspension, brakes, wheels, tires and steering as well as engine modifications—interact with ESC and other active safety systems. SEMA members are invited to attend the Vehicle Dynamics Forum presentations, demonstrations and solutions regarding FMVSS 126 and learn firsthand from the experts about the ESC performance of aftermarket-modified vehicles. This year’s Vehicle Dynamics Forum will feature the new ’14 Chevy Silverado, which is one of the most technologically advanced vehicles on the road today.
The full-scale vehicle testing and hardware-in-the-loop simulation technology and product development methodologies available to members is the same as that used by all OEMs and major suppliers around the world to develop, test and simulate vehicle dynamics, new chassis system components, engines, powertrains, drivelines, suspensions and vehicle electronic control systems. The innovative and collaborative approach developed by SEMA has minimized costs while establishing unique capabilities for member companies that want to know the impact of their products on vehicle dynamics and ESC performance.
The SEMA-Clemson Vehicle Dynamics Workshop led by Dr. Paul Venhovens from Clemson University’s International Center for Automotive Research (CU-ICAR) will follow the Vehicle Dynamics Forum. The workshop will provide an overview of the unique resources available to members and the benefits received by SEMA members participating in the SEMA-Clemson Grant Projects.
Racing and Performance Keynote
Mike Helton, president of NASCAR, will present the Racing and Performance Keynote on Tuesday, November 5, from 12:00 p.m.–1:00 p.m. in the VTC Theater. SEMA Chairman of the Board Nate Shelton will provide the opening comments for this exciting keynote session.
SEMA-member companies continue to play a significant role in NASCAR’s 70-year history and Gen-6 evolution, and NASCAR has played an equally important role in SEMA’s 50-year history and continuing evolution. SEMA’s roots are embedded in racing and the performance aftermarket. Racing and the performance lifestyle are critical to continued relevance and innovation within the NASCAR and SEMA communities and include longtime members and enthusiasts as well as next-generation companies, fans and enthusiasts.
Racing and Performance Forum
The Racing and Performance Forum panel session will be held Tuesday, November 5, from 1:00 p.m.–3:00 p.m. in the VTC. Speakers will include Jamie Allison, director of Ford Racing; Jim Campbell, leader of General Motors Performance Vehicles and Motorsports; Wilfried Eibach, chairman of the Eibach Group; Alwin Springer, former president of Porsche Motorsport North America; and Yves Morizot, founder and chairman of Stand21. The roster will also include several other leaders from the racing and performance community. John Kilroy, vice president and general manager of PRI, will provide an overview of the exciting programs and events leading PRI’s return to Indianapolis, the racing capital of the world.
This forum panel will address questions about the impact of advanced technologies and tighter federal emissions and fuel-efficiency standards on the racing and performance market today and in the near future. For instance, is Gen Y’s lack of interest in cars affecting racing and performance? Does 4G trump a V8 for many young people who may be less interested in driving than their parent’s generation was? Does winning on Sunday still translate to selling on Monday?
This session will explore how leading automakers and SEMA companies are focusing on matching horsepower with the fastest computing power and supporting existing series such as NASCAR and off-road racing. It will also review the merger of Grand-Am and ALMS to form the United SportsCar Racing series as well as new series such as Global Rallycross.
Next-Gen Racers, Designers and Engineers Forum
This new session, to be held November 5 from 3:30 p.m.–4:30 p.m., will focus on the next generation of racers, designers and engineers. This panel will be an open-forum discussion and jam session on the future of motor racing, performance engineering, automotive design and lifestyle from the perspectives of today’s millennial enthusiasts and next-generation professionals on the frontlines of the future.
Special Session: Clemson University Deep Orange Project Vehicle
SEMA’s innovative partnership with the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research (CU-ICAR) and its annual Deep Orange Project Vehicle will be the subject of a press conference in the VTC on Wednesday, November 6, from 10:00 a.m.–10:20 a.m. The SEMA-Clemson partnership is an excellent example of open innovation and generative thinking in action. SEMA and CU-ICAR have teamed up to offer SEMA members access to world-class resources, testing capabilities and engineering talent at affordable costs. This is a must-attend event for technology and performance professionals as well as next-gen enthusiasts and students.
Performance Branding Keynote
Graham Brown—founder of MobileYouth and the Earned Media Fight Club, leading digital anthropologist, cultural explorer and author of six books on youth, culture and social business—will present the Performance Branding Keynote on Wednesday, November 6, from 12:00 p.m.–1:00 p.m. on the VTC Stage.
From wheels and tires to smartphone apps that interact with consumer vehicles and onboard technologies, successful designing and marketing with automotive enthusiasts requires strategies that make customers part of a company’s brand through movements, storytelling and advocacy. Brown is one of the world’s leading authorities on brand democracy and believes that the best brands market with consumers, not to consumers.
Brown’s keynote remarks will help SEMA members understand how brand democracy creates desire through social packaging and consumer context. He will explain why it is important for every business to help fans and enthusiasts tell their story about the benefits of the company’s products and the importance of developing an emotional connection to its brand. Brand democracy is about letting go and turning a brand over to consumers, fans and enthusiasts. Vehicle customization, personalization and accessorization are major elements in that first step.
Performance Branding Forum
On Wednesday, November 6, from 1:00 p.m.–3:00 p.m., the discussion in the VTC will turn to Performance Branding: Integrating Design Thinking and Product Content with Social Thinking and Consumer Context.
People buy on emotion and justify with logic. Design thinking drives technology and product content. It’s a top-down, expert-driven product-development process that creates value. Social thinking is quite the opposite. It is a bottom-up, frontline-driven brand-development process that creates meaning.
Vehicle technology is at the top of the performance aftermarket trending list and matters more than ever.”
Design and social thinking both matter in how people think about technology, performance branding and lifestyle marketing. Every generation defines what it thinks is cool and has a rebirth of cool, from Steve McQueen to Peter Fonda to Travis Pastrana. Today’s vehicles are works of art, power, access and fashion. This panel will investigate the latest strategies, tactics and best practices of successful brands and explore how consumer expectations are impacting how you can use design as a competitive advantage and branding as a competitive differentiator.
Justin Wilkenfeld, GoPro’s director of lifestyle marketing, will headline this panel. He will be joined by Aaron Levant, founder of Agenda, Stewart Reed of the Pasadena Art Center College of Design and other leading designers, brand leaders and customizers currently influencing automotive lifestyles and the specialty-equipment market.
SEMA-Clemson Vehicle Emissions Workshop
Dr. Rob Prucka from CU-ICAR will provide an overview of the unique testing, analysis and compliance resources available to members and the benefits received by SEMA members participating in the SEMA-Clemson Vehicle Emissions Grant Projects. Sandy Stojkovski, Scenaria president, a member of the AVL Group, will join Prucka in this workshop session and describe the unique capabilities of the equipment being used in the Clemson Vehicle Emissions Lab to support SEMA members.
Green Performance Keynote: Repowering the American Dream
Neil Young, musician, entrepreneur and Lincvolt team leader, will provide a Green Performance Keynote entitled “Repowering the American Dream” on Thursday, November 7, from 11:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m. on the VTC Theater State. Young’s goal is to inspire a generation by creating a clean automobile propulsion technology that serves the needs of the 21st century and delivers performance that is a reflection of the driver’s spirit.
Young demonstrated the entrepreneurial spirit of SEMA members and performance enthusiasts around the world with his keynote remarks and the introduction of his ’59 Lincvolt at the 2010 SEMA Show. On this, SEMA’s 50th anniversary, it is worth noting that repowering the American Dream is not just about new vehicles; it’s about new technologies and new ways of thinking for the next generation of hot rodders and enthusiasts. An old car can take you to new places.
Connected Vehicle and Apps Forum
The Connected Vehicle and Apps Forum panel session will be on November 7 from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. in the VCT Theater. Panelists will include Ted Cardenas from Pioneer Car Electronics; Jake Sigal, founder of Livio Radio; Nick Pudar, director of global connected consumer at General Motors; Danny Shapiro from Nvidia; Michael Schagrin from the U.S. Department of Transportation; and Greg Krueger, program manager at SAIC.
This forum will help SEMA members understand how mobile technology is accelerating the automotive aftermarket. Silicon Valley and Detroit are in a battle for the future of the car, and the aftermarket is helping to democratize connected-vehicle technologies. The integration of automotive and consumer electronics technologies and connected-vehicle systems is the hottest area where automakers are collaborating with aftermarket companies and app developers.
Repowering the American Dream is not just about new vehicles; it’s about new technologies and new ways of thinking for the next generation of hot rodders and enthusiasts. An old car can take you to new places.
The OEMs are rapidly expanding their car-to-x and app offerings, but the aftermarket is getting in on the action as well. Automotive and consumer-electronics technologies are leading the way in optimizing the consumer and driving experience. For some SEMA companies, not connected could mean not in business.
Next-generation enthusiasts were born online and raised on technology. They want the fastest cars as well as the smartest cars. Many have no e-fear of sharing information online if they get something in return.
Apps are coming to automobile dashboards. Nearly every new car will soon have downloadable applications, either through a tethered smartphone or via a built-in data link to local wireless carriers. General Motors just announced a new flexible application framework that allows drivers to add apps and features to their vehicles after the initial purchase of the vehicle so that infotainment systems can be updated and improved over time. The framework provides vehicle application programming interfaces (APIs) for developers to access the infotainment systems in GM vehicles.
To paraphrase the King of Cool, Steve McQueen: SEMA is life. Anything before or after the Show is just waiting.
Apps programs such as Ford’s OpenXC Platform and GM’s Flexible App Framework for customized and upgradable driver and customer experiences will create new business opportunities for those SEMA companies focused on connected-vehicle technologies, systems, apps, features and how they get installed, integrated and upgraded into vehicles and automotive lifestyles.
The automotive specialty-equipment industry will always be challenged by advanced vehicle technologies, federal regulations, systems integration and safety considerations. SEMA is continually working to provide unique benefits and value to members by developing vehicle technology solutions and building relationships that foster collaboration between automakers, suppliers, retailers, research organizations, industry associations and member companies.
SEMA’s vehicle technology initiatives, programs and solutions are operational throughout the year. However, experiencing the Vehicle Technology Center and attending the Technology Briefing Seminars at the SEMA Show are great opportunities for members to learn firsthand about the impact of vehicle technology on their business and the resources and benefits available to them. To paraphrase the King of Cool, Steve McQueen: SEMA is life. Anything before or after the Show is just waiting.