DIAMOND BAR, Calif.—Vehicle technology, education, tariffs and trade, and preserving the rights of motorists to transform street vehicles into race cars are among the top issues in 2020 for the Specialty Equipment Market Association, according to Chris Kersting, SEMA president and CEO.
"Vehicle technology and advanced driver assist systems continue to be hot topics in the industry," Kersting said.
SEMA is working with other aftermarket associations, tier suppliers and original equipment manufacturers to obtain the information and tools they need to properly develop and integrate specialty parts and modifications, he said.
SEMA will increase its presence in Detroit in the second half of 2020, according to Kersting. Details will be coming soon, he said.
The SEMA Garage in Southern California has allowed the association to provide specialty product manufacturers with hands-on access to new vehicle models, according to Kersting.
Also, SEMA Education is seeing increasing interest in online marketing, and the rapidly growing SEMA Data Co-op is helping members standardize their product data.
"Youth outreach is a priority for SEMA," Kersting said. "We're doing more to reach kids at an earlier age, with programs targeted to all levels. We've always had, and continue to offer, scholarships for college-age kids."
SEMA's top legislative priority is the Recognizing the Protection of Motorsports Act, which is designed to ensure that federal law continues to allow motor vehicles to be transformed into race cars.
For nearly 50 years, no one questioned the rights of motorists to convert street vehicles, according to Kersting.
In 2015, however, the Environmental Protection Agency ruled that converted street vehicles must continue to meet strict emissions standards even if they are driven only on race tracks, he said.
The RPM Act has been reintroduced in the House and Senate, Kersting said.
"SEMA is cautiously optimistic that the U.S. Congress will get the RPM Act over the finish line in 2020," he said.
SEMA welcomes the first phase of a U.S.-China trade agreement, but opposes the 25 percent tariffs that remain in place on most imported auto parts.
"The auto industry has been threatened with 20 percent to 25 percent tariffs on imported automobiles and auto parts since mid-2018," Kersting said. "SEMA has worked closely with other members of the 'Driving American Jobs Coalition,' a group representing the full scope of the auto industry … to oppose the potential tariffs."
Kersting said the 2019 SEMA Show in Las Vegas was "perhaps the best ever."
"We introduced a new Overlanding Experience that was well-received and continued to expand the educational program by bringing programs directly onto the show floor," he said.
SEMA already is planning the 2020 show.
"Our goal is to provide manufacturers with the best venue to connect with buyers and debut new products," he said. "We're encouraged by exhibitor demand to expand and are working on solutions to accommodate their requests.
"Ultimately, the SEMA Show is a reflection of the industry, so we will continue to evolve along with the marketplace."