Hema Maps attends the 2023 SEMA Show
The international SEMA (Specialty Equipment Market Association) Show is the largest and most significant automotive aftermarket accessories trade show in the world, where exhibitors worldwide share their most innovative products. Hema Maps Chairman Sam Hayward was at this year’s show, held from 31 October to 3 November 2023 at the Las Vegas Convention Centre in North America. Attracting more than 161,000 individuals and 2400 exhibiting companies, the SEMA Show really is a hub for all things aftermarket car accessories and brings new ideas and the latest technology to the fore for the business-to-business attendees.
We sat down with Sam to get some insider scoops from the show, including his highlights, some upcoming trends and what he believes is the next ‘big thing’ in the industry.
What is SEMA?
For those that might not know, SEMA is a huge international multiday show for the automotive aftermarket and accessories industry. This includes the ‘touring’ market that Hema Maps operates in, which is referred to as the ‘overland’ market in the US. Thousands of industry leaders — including Australian companies such as REDARC, ARB, MAXTRAX, Ironman 4x4, Saber Offroad, Autophix and many more — come to the SEMA Show to display their newest products.
Plenty of touring & overlanding vehicles and equipment
Why did Hema Maps attend SEMA?
Hema Maps finds attending these specialty shows is of utmost importance for product initialisation and to understand and keep up with overseas trends, which have a massive impact on the Australian market. The SEMA Show gives Hema Maps the opportunity to meet with our business partners, gives the company some visibility to those that are at the forefront of the industry and allows us to source new and innovative products to bring back to the Aussie market.
Specialised maps for disabled Hikers: Falcon Guides
What were the highlights of the SEMA Show?
One of the highlights for me had to be the realisation of how much the overland market has taken off in the US in the last five to 10 years. And it’s interesting to see how their market evolves compared to ours. Interestingly, Australia, despite being a smaller market, leads the international stage in terms of product development, as Australian products are often regarded as being ‘Outback proven, Aussie tough,’ having been tested in the harshest Aussie conditions. This places us in a unique and coveted spot as a manufacturer of aftermarket accessories.
One can see old, renovated and loved showpieces, such as this 1968 Jeep Super Wagoneer
What are some trends you noticed at SEMA?
I’ll choose three trends:
1. The number of slide-on campers available. These are designed to fit on large utes (think US-style pickup trucks like a RAM or Silverado) and offer a cheaper alternative to buying a caravan. There were many different models available, and it looks like the range is growing. A market to keep an eye on in Australia.
2. One of the things that surprised me was the number of car-wrapping (vinyl-wrapping) vendors. It’s a massive industry in the US and is an indicator of the economy more than anything, with many turning to wrap their cars in exciting new colours and finishes, they are able to upgrade their vehicles without the hefty price tag of a new car. The popularity and growth of this trend is one to watch.
3. The last trend I noticed at the 2023 SEMA Show was the sheer number of big Chevie-type tow vehicles. These big and powerful US vehicles have a greater towing capacity than our four- and six-cylinder local cars, and with caravans and camper trailers becoming more sophisticated (and in turn heavier), the capability of your tow vehicle needs to be considered. We’ll be seeing more of these big vehicles here in Aus.
What do you believe is the next ‘big thing’ in the industry?
With current cost of living pressures and international unrest, there seems to be a ‘rush’ to get into touring before the world implodes. I think the next ‘big thing’ in the industry is an even larger of influx of older people joining the touring lifestyle, as they’re typically in a stronger financial position than younger generations and they have the luxury of heading towards or already being in retirement. There are plenty more people aspiring to become grey nomads.
Optima Rivian RT1. Fully EV, with its own battery trailer and re-charge cells. (50kwh in the trailer 75kwh in vehicle)
What is something unexpected you saw at SEMA?
The Association ran a variety of well-attended educational and instructional courses run by industry professionals throughout the four days. These courses were extremely popular, and I learnt a lot of interesting information about evolving technologies and the like. With 12 to 16 sessions per day, there was a variety of topics to learn about. For example, there were lessons in women’s advancement, marketing skills, business essentials, technical classes including panel repair, spray painting, wheel alignment and software for workshops, fuel technology and e-vehicles, just to name a few.
Sam was brimming with excitement throughout the interview, and you can tell SEMA is an important yearly event for the company, allowing us to create ongoing relationships with touring businesses worldwide and collaborate with the biggest names in the industry. For information regarding next year’s SEMA Show, or ‘SEMA week,’ just click here.
At Hema Maps, we strive to provide the most comprehensive and accurate maps and guides for outdoor enthusiasts looking to explore Australia's natural wonders.
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