Every year, aftermarket vendors, automakers, and regular parts suppliers show off their specialty parts, gadgets, kits, and doodads at the SEMA show in Las Vegas. The most heavily customized vehicle is, perennially, the Jeep Wrangler, but people buy go-faster, go-further, electronics, and cosmetic bits and bobs for all sorts of vehicles.
Some may wonder what place these companies hold in a hybrid future, when you really shouldn’t mess around with the computer’s ideas over where everything is, how large the wheels are, and such; how will the Wrangler Hybrid respond to a two-inch suspension lift? How about a Prius?
It seems likely that lighting will always be one opportunity, even if every car comes with LED headlights, because (a) people want them in different colors, with halos, etc., and (b) there is always a new LED technology, just like there was always a new halogen or HID technology. Likewise, spoilers, grilles, and the other cosmetic packs and parts aren’t really affected.
A new category is fans for the battery, stepping in to replace cold air induction kits and the like. Major parts supplier Continental was the first company to hit the aftermarket with battery-pack fans, sold under the VDO name, engineered to fit “popular hybrid vehicles.”
Continental’s kit is a factory-replacement setup, using a design similar or identical to the original; but one can visualize “new, improved, higher performance” parts coming sooner or later. How many will work, and how many will be placebos or poorly designed gear that actually gets in the way? Maybe we’ll find out.
The author of Dodge Viper, Jeep’s Go-Anywhere Vehicles, and The Rise and Reinvention of Chrysler Minivans, David Zatz has been writing about cars and trucks since the early 1990s; he also writes on organizational development and business at toolpack.info and covers Mac statistics software at macstats.org. His latest book, for kids, is Meet the Jeep.
David has been quoted by the New York Times, the Daily Telegraph, the Detroit News, and USA Today. You can reach him by using our contact form (preferred) or by calling (313) 766-2304.