What Is the SEMA Automotive Exhibition?

Genevieve Fraser
Dec 1, 2021 · 4 min read
Car enthusiasts are always on the lookout for innovations on the road. An automotive exhibition such as SEMA is the best place to feast your eyes on the latest and greatest in the automobile industry.
Each year, more than 150,000 folks in the automotive industry unite in Las Vegas, Nevada to witness the incredible innovations on display. The exhibition also gives market watchers insight into the up-and-coming technologies that are likely to feature on car brands in the future.
A Las Vegas, Nevada street sidewalk with people walking on it, and tall buildings and trees in the background
Every year, thousands gather in Las Vegas for the SEMA automotive exhibition.

What does SEMA mean, and who takes part?

SEMA is an acronym for Specialty Equipment Market Association. According to MotorTrend, the association, which was founded in 1963, originally brought together parts and performance equipment manufacturers for the hot rod scene.
The event featured well-known entities like B&M Automotive Products, Weiand Power & Racing, and Weber Speed Equipment.
Now, SEMA has become a fully-fledged, well-rounded automotive celebration, according to MotorTrend, highlighting builds and modifications geared for all conditions, whether on the race track, off-road, or in the city.
It is a place for warehouse distributors, subcontractors, buyers and vendors of car parts, media outlets, and other automotive-inclined personnel (including car clubs, racing teams, and service organizations) to gather and share.
SEMA is as much a platform for automotive excellence as it is a networking event. According to the SEMA Show website, there are plenty of professional education sessions and opportunities to connect with influential figures.
MotorTrend notes that the public is not permitted at the SEMA Show, as it is a trade-only event.
However, you can apply if you have a feature vehicle that is “owned or sponsored by an exhibiting company,” according to MotorTrend, so long as certain aesthetic, functional, and administrative requirements are met.

The difference between SEMA and AAPEX

There is a similar trade-only automotive exhibition called AAPEX that happens around the same time as SEMA.
According to MotorTrend, AAPEX is an acronym for Automotive Aftermarket Products Expo. As its name suggests, the event is keenly focused on aftermarket products.
AAPEX is a smaller, more industrial event, without the multitude of feature vehicles you’ll find at SEMA.
An event as large as SEMA requires a suitably sized venue. It occupies over one million square feet at the Las Vegas Convention Center, crammed full of automotive delights. Specifically, 2,400 exhibiting companies feature 1,500 vehicles and 3,000 new products.

Highlights of the 2021 exhibition

The 2021 SEMA Show took place between November 2nd and 5th. Design News picked several newsworthy highlights of the show. Apparently, the show was so massive that a mobile app was available to help attendees to find their way around.
Notably, the event featured an exhibit of classics that had been converted from internal combustion to electric power. This represents an important step towards a cleaner future and emphasizes the viability of this practice in preserving beloved vintage vehicles.
Keeping the electric trend going, there were custom-built electric vehicles (EVs) and parts on display for DIY conversion enthusiasts.
The stars of the show, as always, were custom vehicles from the biggest names in the automotive industry.

Vintage-inspired vehicles and a monster off-roader impressed

According to Design News, some of the eye-catching modifications included the Ford Maverick Street Truck, which featured 1980's rally car-inspired wheels complete with built-in fans and 3D-printed flares. A 3D-printed spoiler and front air dam rounded out the modern additions.
A Toyota Tacozilla concept camper, built on the midsized Tacoma pickup also drew on the 1980s with its noticeable striping. The colors mirror those of ‘80s Toyota Racing Development cars, though modern updates include more power and overall height inside.
Chevrolet displayed its futuristic off-road Chevy Beast concept that featured huge 37-inch AMP Terrain Attack tires on 20-inch Raceline beadlock wheels. Equipped with a 650-hp supercharged V8 and racing harnesses for Recaro performance seats, the Beast certainly lives up to its name.
It will be interesting to see what advancements have been made for next year’s show, which is scheduled to take place from November 1st to 4th, 2022 at the same Las Vegas location, according to the SEMA Show website.
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