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Compact Performance Sales Top $3 Billion in 2003

Sales of appearance accessories, handling and suspension parts and performance and racing products for compact performance vehicles topped $3 billion in 2003, according to SEMA, the Specialty Equipment Market Association.

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DIAMOND BAR, Calif. — Sales of appearance accessories, handling and suspension parts and performance and racing products for compact performance vehicles topped $3 billion in 2003, according to SEMA, the Specialty Equipment Market Association. The association has tracked the growth of this automotive specialty equipment market segment since its infancy in 1997 when sales were only $295 million.

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The segment grew 35 percent last year, according to Jim Spoonhower, SEMA vice president of market research. Spoonhower opened SEMA’s seventh International Auto Salon-Los Angeles at the Los Angeles Convention Center with a press conference announcing the 2003 market segment statistics and trends.

“Our research this past year revealed a shift in the vehicle modification in this segment,” he said. “When we first tracked compact sedans being modified, about 60 percent of them were purchased or acquired as used vehicles, and their owners not only modified their appearance but also invested in improving their performance. Now, with the entrance of so many newer vehicles equipped with the most modern engine and handling technology into this segment, their owners are placing greater emphasis on adding appearance and interior creature comforts and amenities such as mobile electronics.”

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Spoonhower said the portion of SEMA’s research conducted at enthusiast gatherings such as SEMA’s International Auto Salon, car shows and spring break festivities showed that 64 percent of 18- to 25 year olds prefer to own a distinctive vehicle, and 58.5 percent see their vehicles as a form of self expression. “But only 44 percent of the 18- to 25 year olds think of themselves as automotive enthusiasts,” he said. “That, and the modern underhood components on the vehicles they choose, means that the youth market is concentrating on vehicle appearance to make their fashion statement.”

The average annual percent increase for the compact performance market over the last five years is 50 percent, according to SEMA’s research. The increases have ranged from 72.6 percent in 1999 to 26.5 percent in 2001 when a softening economy and American involvement in military efforts affected the compact performance segment.

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During a second presentation to the media attending the industry/media day of the International Auto Salon-Los Angeles, SEMA President and CEO Christopher Kersting reported that the total market grew 7.7 percent in 2003.

More information about the compact performance market is available from Jim Spoonhower, SEMA vice president of market research at [email protected], 909/396-0289, ext. 145, or by visiting www.sema.org.

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