For about 20 years, SEMA (Specialty Equipment Manufacturers Association) has been hosting the most exciting automobile related show in North America. It takes place in Las Vegas, Nevada and is attended by over 60,000 industry insiders every year. This is is the destination where all dealers can meet all suppliers under one roof – or ten. Few local dealers spend the money required to attend the show, but we think it is a critical component of growth.
Automotive technology is evolving at an astounding pace, and the Motorize staff really enjoys being on the cutting edge. We are always trying to offer the best services to our loyal customer base and new customers. This year, the show was attended by Motorize founder Julian Sale, detail and lot manager Joshuah Hunt, reconditioning consultant and former Motorize sales manager Cameron Wall, and transporter extraordinaire Simon Sterling. We were all eager to gain knowledge in specific areas, and the show delivered. There is so much to talk about but here will touch on a few key points.
One area we saw a big opportunity for improvement was auto detailing. We already have a reputation for selling really clean electric vehicles at our store because we spend more time and effort reconditioning used vehicles than most other shops. We believe our customers deserve the best. This year SEMA introduced us to a new selection of FLEX polishing tools including one which is battery powered. These allow us to transform used and new car paint finishes into showroom shiny marvels. The catchphrase we liked the most: Dual Action Forced Rotation (DAFR). Traditional (rotary) polishers spin a foam or wool pad against the paint surface on your car, with a small amount of polishing compound (diminishing abrasive). These machines are great for polishing large defects in the clear coat on top of your paint, but they are not great for creating a swirl-free, perfect final shine. Orbital polishers, also known as dual-action allow some extra movement in an oscillating pattern to further reduce the chance of unsightly swirl marks. But they have a downfall – they can stop rotating evenly and can damage paint on some surfaces, and they don’t always leave the same finish on every part of the car – requiring lots of time and patience. That brings us to ‘DAFR’ as mentioned above. These are the newest in polisher technology and performance, as they have the desirable oscillating movement, but with a more advanced drive system that forces the polishing pad to follow a specific pattern traveling in every direction. This is the fastest and safest way to achieve a perfectly smooth finish. Next, we use another great machine from FLEX, called “The Finisher” which is a traditional dual action orbital polisher with a long throw. This final step provides the absolute best finish and highly lustrous shine, exceeding what you expect from a new car shine. The polishing compounds available today are far superior to what we used 5 years ago, allowing for faster work and better results that last longer. This polisher will improve the look of your detail job without costing you any additional money. We ordered new equipment with this technology that will allow us further improve the finish quality on the cars we sell, and on those we detail for our customers.
We also picked up lots of great info and know-how for ceramic coatings. Ceramic is a super hard material, much harder than paint. Ceramic coatings lay on top of your vehicles’ paint finish and glass to provide an extra layer of protection that keeps its shine and protection for up to one year. This is a great way to preserve the lustrous shine and keep your ride easy to clean. Apart from preserving the amazing shine of a freshly polished paint finish, the ceramic stop environmental factors such as bird droppings and tree sap from damaging your paint. Simply hand wash with a soapy wash fit and reveal your shine. Ceramic coatings are part of a complete detail package, costing between $500 – $700, and they are guaranteed to last.
We were thrilled to see the number EVs used for display going up, seemingly at an exponential rate. SEMA 2015 only had a few electric vehicles such as a Saleen Tesla Model S showing off new lightweight wheels, a dismantled BMW i3 in the BMW booth demonstrating carbon composite construction, and a BMW i8 used to promote a software company. We also saw a modified Chevrolet Spark EV set up as a race team support vehicle. SEMA 2018 had over 20 EVs including performance modified Tesla Model 3s, more Model S than I could count, a new Chevrolet Camaro drag race car with electric motors producing over 700HP, a custom modified Chevy Bolt cargo van, and even an electric Bigfoot monster truck.
We also noticed Coates, a wheel and alignment equipment manufacturer using a new LEAF to demonstrate their technology. Only an EV can be driven and utilized inside the convention centre. Gas cars not allowed. In a nutshell: Chevrolet and other car makers are switching to electric. Not all right away, but the seeds were planted a few years ago and now they have sprouted. This eCOPO Camaro is a test bed for performance products and will lead to a new line of performance parts for racers. This drastically changes the face of motorsport, making drag racing cleaner, more affordable, and more competitive for more racers. This particular vehicle also brought 800-volt battery technology to North America ahead of the much anticipated Porsche Taycan car which also uses 800v technology.
The crazy, far-fetched stuff we see at SEMA this year becomes commonplace, accessible tech next year. In addition to the development of new tech, the acceptance of clean electric powertrains is expanding quickly. The automotive landscape is a busy and complex place with many moving parts. The integration and assimilation of EV technology is visible on the streets, at dealers, and now deep inside the industry at the manufacturing level, and everyone in every corner of the marketplace is noticing.