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Performance Market Hits on All Cylinders

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The sport compact modification trend is in high gear, and continues to accelerate by all growth indicators. The latest report from SEMA indicates that sales of accessories, handling and suspension parts, and performance and racing products for compact performance vehicles topped $3 billion in 2003 – a 35% increase over the prior year.

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Other SEMA research reveals that 64% of 18- to 25-year-olds prefer to own a distinctive vehicle, and 58.5% see their vehicles as a form of self-expression.

Further, the 2004 International Auto Salon (IAS), held April 2-4 at the Los Angeles Convention Center, produced this impressive scorecard, according to Rosemarie Kitchin, SEMA director, consumer/public relations:

  • Show size – 112,100 square feet, up from 105,500 in 2003;
  • Attendance – More than 13,000 people over the three-day show;
  • Buyer count – 2,259 buyers, up by more than 50% from the previous year;
  • Exhibitor count – 210;
  • Show vehicles – More than 400 vehicles were on display on the show floor; 275 of which were “feature” vehicles.

The momentum for the sport compact phenomenon continues to sweep the country, spanning from coast to coast, creating in its path new marketing and service opportunities along the way. (Note: An East Coast IAS version will be held May 21-23 in the Atlantic City Convention Center.)

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So what does all of this mean?

  • The market for performance modifications is on a fast, upward climb;
  • Tuners exert contagious enthusiasm for modifying, enhancing and tweaking their vehicles as an extension of their personality and lifestyle, providing a solid foundation for continued market growth and sales opportunities;
  • Suppliers to the market continue to grow every day, as they carve out their niche in the underhood/undercar performance, appearance/aesthetics and interior/mobile electronics categories;
  • As the demand for performance modifications continues to grow, more service shops will be needed to accomplish the work;
  • New trends, such as “drifting,” continue to add excitement and service opportunities to the mix. “Drifting is a form of driving competition, where drivers take their vehicles through a driving course, and are judged on form and style rather than speed,” explains Kitchin. “There’s a lot of “back end” motion of the vehicles and their tires. It looks like ice skating with cars.”

It will be interesting to see which shops will be in the driver’s seat when the demand for sport compact performance modifications heats up in their area. Will your shop be one of them?

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