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Autopromotec to Las Vegas


As always, during the Halloween celebrations, the city of Las Vegas, slowly recovering from recent tragic events, hosted the traditional SEMA SHOW, a global exhibition centred on accessories and tuning parts, rims, tires and garage equipment, as well as AAPEX, dedicated to spare parts and accessories with a different character

Emanuele Vicentini

Reaching Las Vegas during the automotive week featuring both SEMA and AAPEX, one cannot help noticing how the city tries to look strong, with all those hashtags found just about  everywhere, #VegasStrong, but how in reality this community has been deeply affected by the tragic and bloody events that occurred only a month earlier, following the shooting at a concert near the Mandalay Bay hotel.

Regular visitors are perfectly aware of how security checks in the city are normally close to zero, while this year, for the first time, there were gates with metal detectors, backpacks and trolley inspections at the entrances of the exhibition halls. Nothing special, in fact all hotels were still surveillance free, but certainly a significant change for a city accustomed to being synonymous with fun and business thanks to the many trade shows, and is now forced to deal with this new situation for the first time.

As always, AAPEX was organized by ACA (Auto Care Association), SEMA by the namesake Specialty Equipment Manufacturer's Association and TIA (Tire Industry Association) as regards the section dedicated to tires, renamed Global Tire Expo a few years ago. In short, two joined membership-based events with a long, very long tradition.

Although in different exhibition areas, the dates of the two events almost overlap so as to squeeze the largest number of visitors in the fewest possible days, meeting, at the same time, the needs of the international public crowded in the halls and in the long "seminar sessions".

SEMA takes the largest space dedicated to the event, and looking at the number of large temporary structures next to the Convention Centre, it appears to be growing with time: created 50 years ago and capable of hosting 2,400 exhibitors and well over 1.2 million square feet of exhibition space and 140,000 visitors estimated during the four days of opening (source:, this event has, over the years, grown into a meeting place for US tires, equipment and components manufacturers, eager to get in contact with buyers and stakeholders from all over the world. Suffice it to say that the official figures speak of over 70,000 "quality buyers" from 140 foreign countries and as many as 3,000 new products launched during the event.

In 2017 there were over 3000 accredited media operators and 550 first-time exhibitors, showcasing new products, services and solutions to a traditional market, yet open to new technological and web-related opportunities: as always, alongside large premium car builders and leading aftermarket groups, the event saw the presence of small specialized companies led by experts of the trade making up a rather complex puzzle of operators that represents the real added value of this exhibition.

The South Hall of the exhibition, managed by TIA (Tire Industry Association) featured a strong and consolidated presence of garage equipment manufacturers, with a number of Italian firms at the forefront, along with some of the most important tire producers such as Pirelli and Continental: here is where an exhibition space coordinated by ICE (Foreign Trade Institute) included 7 Italian companies in addition to AICA (Italian Garage Equipment Manufacturers Association) and Autopromotec, an increasingly popular aftermarket tradeshow even in the USA.

One figure cannot be emphasized enough according to the event’s organizers, and relates to the entire industrial sector represented here at SEMA: the sector’s turnover, with 42.1 billion dollars a year in the United States alone; a great reason to justify the growing interest surrounding the event.

AAPEX represents the most sober side of the industry, with its Euro-style exhibition: components, lubricants and even garage equipment here, albeit to a lesser extent. AAPEX is a bit like the other side of the coin as far as target visitors are concerned, which are fewer compared to SEMA. In short, it has more of a European feel, as opposed to the often bizarre exhibits at SEMA, even if visitors with a single entry ticket can visit both shows.

During the three days of the show, AAPEX hosts 2,400 exhibitors and over 60 conference sessions under the AAPEXedu banner (with a dedicated agenda of conferences, a bit like Autopromotec) and 39,000 buyers who mingled with the 130,000 guests visiting from over 140 countries (source: AAPEX official press release). Many of the exhibitors occupied more than one area and in different strategic positions: this is why the organizers mentioned the presence of over 5,000 stands. Numerous Asian collective areas were present, although the overall quality of the products exhibited was not always ‘up to scratch’; at the same time, numerous collective areas from other countries around the world were also present, with a natural prevalence of central and South American countries (Mexico, Brazil, Colombia). AAPEX, in essence, opens a window on the technological challenges facing the aftermarket.

Stay tuned for the next AAPEX and SEMA trade shows, which will take place in Las Vegas the first week of November.

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