Automakers Are Abandoning SEMA

Jul 16, 2022 2 min read
Automakers Are Abandoning SEMA

We dig into what’s going on…

The Specialty Equipment Market Association or SEMA Show has been around since 1967. Over the years, the gathering, which is ostensibly closed to the public, has gone from a tiny affair to one of the must-attend occasions for just about everyone in the auto industry. In recent times, automakers have leveraged the event to get enthusiasts excited about their offerings, pouring considerable resources into builds, displays, driving experiences, and more. Now, it seems those investments are in retreat.

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As of the writing of this article, GM, Ford, Honda, and Hyundai have all pulled out of the 2022 SEMA Show. It seems like the list keeps growing every few days, so it might be outdated by the time this publishes.

Some are blaming this “great withdrawal” from SEMA on covid, the scapegoat for everything we don’t want to think too deeply about these days. While the pandemic response meant closing down SEMA for 2020 and having a scaled-back gathering in 2021 with plenty of restrictions, is that the reason why automakers are pulling out this year?

Others are pointing out to the nature of marketing changing, thanks in large part to technology. Since automakers can show off their products online, reaching huge audiences who can’t attend an exclusive show like SEMA, some are deciding to pour resources into these more inclusive strategies. Plus, automakers can control the entire experience, instead of having to deal with competition. This has impacted other car shows around the globe in recent years.

Official releases from automakers don’t say anything you could construe as the least bit negative about the SEMA Show. For example GM stated, "The SEMA show has always inspired us, and accessories and performance parts remain an important part of our business." Ford announced it will be showing off its vehicles online and “at Ford events and shows.”

Previously, Honda had reaffirmed it would be participating. Then like a Civic Type R whips through a turn, they did an about-face, pulling out of SEMA 2022. In its announcement touching on Ford and Honda withdrawing from the show, SEMA said both automakers will still be collaborating in several programs like Tech Transfer and Measuring Sessions.

Everything isn’t bad for SEMA. Toyota, Lexus, Volkswagen, Nissan, Mopar, etc. are still committed to participating in the show this year, although that list could admittedly change. Toyota and Lexus are reportedly going to take over the space GM was going to occupy, as reflected on the event map. Because SEMA’s entire website was curiously down at the time of writing this article, we couldn’t confirm the latest arrangement of displays.

Source: Autoweek, SEMA

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