DIAMOND BAR, CA — Despite a sluggish economy, the U.S. automotive specialty equipment industry grew 7.7 percent to $28.9 billion in 2003, according to new findings from the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA).
The market’s 2002 sales of products such as appearance accessories, racing and performance parts and suspension and handling equipment totaled $26.8 billion. But the sucess is not just financial, according to SEMA President and CEO Christopher Kersting.
“Although we are far ahead of the overall economy, our very good news is not only about the money,” said Kersting. “Our industry’s sales reflect the excitement, performance and utility of the products we offer to make daily driving more fun, convenient, comfortable, efficient and more suited to personal lifestyles. Automotive motifs are pervasive in our culture today we see them in movies, hear them in music, and play ‘automotive’ in video games. It’s obvious that Americans and their vehicles are seamed together.”
Appearance accessories accounted for a majority share (57.7 percent) of the automotive specialty industry, with nearly $17 billion spent on items like truck bedliners, graphics, body kits and sunroofs, SEMA reported.
Handling improvements from performance braking systems, steering, suspension products, custom wheels and performance tires took the second largest share of the market at $7.27 billion, or 25.1 percent of the market. Within the handling equipment sector of the market, performance tire sales were $3.5 billion, running closely with custom wheel sales at $3.3 billion.
Products to improve performance or for use in racing generated $5.08 billion (17.6 percent of the total).
“The balance of product sectors within our market didn’t shift much last year,” commented Kersting. “Appearance accessories’ market share grew by one-tenth of one percent: the market share for handling was exactly the same as in 2002, and performance and racing products, while sliding about half a percent, grew in dollar sales from $4.9 billion in 2002 to $5.2 billion in 2003.”
“Analyzing the numbers with our market research staff, it’s apparent that automotive appearance products arebecoming increasingly more mainstream,” he said. “In the early days of the specialty equipment industry, our customers were primarily enthusiasts interested in racing and performance. Today, more and more accessories are being purchased by non-enthusiast consumers. They are choosing to spend their discretionary dollars on automotive products. Our vendors basically compete with discretionary entertainment options available to consumers.”
For more information about SEMA, go to: www.sema.org.
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