Automakers want a larger slice of the lucrative market for specialized performance parts and accessories for trucks and sport-utility vehicles.
The Chevrolet, Jeep and Ford brands used the Specialty Equipment Market Association, or SEMA, show in Las Vegas this week to announce a range of products for popular or upcoming vehicles.
Sales of accessories and performance parts make up a $40-billion market in the U.S. with about 90 percent of consumers purchasing products for their vehicles, according to Reynolds and Reynolds, an automotive dealer management consulting firm
“Frankly, we want our fair share of that market,” said Ken Morris, vice president of global product integrity at General Motors, which owns the Chevrolet brand.
This disparity is visually obvious at the sprawling SEMA show. Displays of tires, wheels, car covers, powertrain enhancements and other equipment from hundreds of suppliers fill the 2 million square feet of exhibit face at the Las Vegas Convention Center. The exhibits of automakers take up only a tiny sliver of that space and are spread across multiple halls.
Chevrolet is developing an off-road performance package for its Colorado ZR2 mid-size pickup truck. Designed with the help of off-road racer Chad Hall, the kit potentially will include items such as a 1.5-inch body lift, 33-inch Goodyear Wrangler MT/R tires, rear shock skidplates, a rear differential skidplate, a steel driveshaft, wheel spacers with extended-length wheel studs and an off-road air intake and performance exhaust upgrade.
Hall has already used a ZR2 with the suite of parts to win the stock truck segments of the Vegas to Reno and Tonopah 250 off-road races.
Truck owners are among the most likely customers to purchase accessories or components to modify their vehicles.
Already, Colorado owners purchase about $600 of accessories per vehicle, second highest in the Chevrolet lineup after owners of the full-size Silverado pickup.
Meanwhile, the Mopar parts division of Jeep brand owner Fiat Chrysler Automobiles said it plans to introduce more than 200 new Jeep performance parts and accessories for the 2018 Jeep Wrangler.
The automaker is introducing the parts before suppliers of aftermarket accessories and components have even had a chance to examine and measure the new Wrangler.
The products include lifts kits, beadlock-capable wheels, off-road bumpers, LED off-road lights and rock rails. Other accessories for the Wrangler, which is expected to make its debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show in December, include a roof rack for mounting a variety of lifestyle cargo carriers, a tailgate table, vehicle graphics, tire covers and fuel doors.
“Mopar has incorporated input from Wrangler owners in bringing to the marketplace the most powerful, reliable and authentic lineup of accessories and performance parts available.” said Pietro Gorlier, who heads Mopar parts and service.
Based on its experience with the current model, 98 percent of Jeep Wrangler vehicles are typically outfitted with at least one Mopar product, the automaker said.
Ford also took the opportunity to unveil a new supercharger that increases the output of the 5.0-liter V8 engine in its 2018 F-150 pickup truck, from 395 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque to 640 horsepower and 600 pound-feet of torque. Developed in tandem with Roush Performance, the supercharger is backed by a limited warranty and will be available in early 2018.
Most consumers purchase accessories within the first 90 days of vehicle ownership, Reynolds and Reynolds said. Such sales can be an important profit center for dealers. Reynolds and Reynolds looked at transactions involving 185,000 customers in 2015 and found that dealers produced an average of $382 per customer in sales and $186 per customer in profits.
Floor mats are the most purchased item, according to the consulting firm. They also have the highest profit margin.