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SEMA and AAPEX in Las Vegas once again for the automotive week

The world’s entertainment capital hosted two events dedicated to the aftermarket in November, with a strong Italian presence at both events

Emanuele Vicentini

For most aftermarket professionals, November means travelling to Las Vegas for the SEMA and AAPEX shows. Although this year, an almost total overlap with the EICMA motorcycle show forced many to bend over backwards to be present at both shows at the same time.

SEMA and AAPEX are similar and complementary, with a slight difference in the profile of the visitors: more “workshop-oriented" the first, more representatives of the industry in the second.

The strong and varied Italian presence in sectors such as tire, garage and body shop equipment as well as spare parts and car care operators, was quite evident at both exhibitions, with dozens of brands present directly or through their American subsidiary.

At AAPEX (Automobile Aftermarket Products Expo) the atmosphere closely resembles a European event, with a few minor differences: the stands are sober, there is little or no presence of cars. Here ACA (Auto Care Association, co-owner of the show) is openly fighting for the management of vehicle data, i.e. for the existence and free competition in vehicle maintenance. They represent the independent aftermarket and Bill Hanvey, ACA vice president of Marketing and Event, stressed, during the opening press conference, that "every connected vehicle will now transfer 25 GB of data per hour", and that "in 2022 in the USA more than 87% of all vehicles will be connected, so the management of all that data, owned by motorists, will be crucial for vehicle assistance and maintenance". Hanvey added: "Our Demand Access and Control campaign aims to keep the average garage within reach of, say, a mother who only uses the vehicle to drive her child to school”. 

The organisers of AAPEX then announced great news and changes to the floorplan for the 2020 edition, with a larger-than-ever presence of the automotive equipment and tires sector, with the aim of representing a complete car assistance and maintenance chain and, at the same time, vehicle data management.

AAPEX claims the presence of 2500 manufacturers and over 5500 stands, and states that in the USA the automotive aftermarket industry grew by 3.4% in 2018 (source: AAPEX press releases); a strong element of the event is the conference calendar, divided between the Mobility Garage and the AAPEX EDU Adas Forum and Let's Tech sections.

The SEMA show (Specialty Equipment Market Association), on the other hand, brings together more than 2,400 manufacturers of components, accessories and equipment for the automotive industry, especially for garages, body shops and tire shops. Almost all major brands are present. At the same time, many of the distributors from North and South America come to Las Vegas for an appointment they cannot miss, as new products are launched, innovation takes centre stage and the industry evolves.

A significant number of tire makers have been positioned in the outdoor areas of the Las Vegas Convention Centre; Continental’s area, for example, boasted a drifting test track: this to promote an effective “branding” activity able to involve not only the final operator, but also the general public.

Tom Guttuso, SEMA VP of Events, said that SEMA "serves a 43 billion dollar automotive aftermarket industry in the U.S. alone" and that last year more than 161,000 professionals, including over 71,000 buyers representing retail workshops, distribution warehouses, e-commerce sites and dealers visited the event.

A huge seminar program, which this year included several spaces located directly between the stands, was another important element that attracted industry professionals from all over the continent, mostly free of charge.

Autopromotec promoted the next edition of the its own event, scheduled for 2021, and hosted 6 Italian SMEs in its stand located in the south hall lower, although in general, as mentioned above, all the halls of both exhibitions saw the conspicuous presence of many Italian companies active in the American continent.

Finally, it should be noted that the stands of the major car manufacturers showcased several electric or hybrid models, an important market trends also in the U.S., all obviously appropriately customized or enriched with accessories.

Next appointment in 2020, as always in the unrivalled context of Las Vegas, a city that seems to become increasingly larger and more attractive, with new expansion projects for both exhibitions that are beginning to see the light and that, in a few years, will transform the entire floorplan.

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