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SEMA Met Its Forecasts Despite Slump

A note to depressed car aftermarket suppliers: The 2008 SEMA, (Specialty Equipment Marketing Association) Show actually met its forecasts for an attendance of 100,000, making it the second-largest show in SEMA history, said the SEMA organization.

Maybe those attendees were at your show booth, maybe not, but any sign that an automobile-related business is faring well these days is good news.              

 The only caveat is that aftermarket car stereo suppliers, at least the leading ones, are backing out of the show.

Kenwood said it won’t exhibit next year, and Pioneer and Audiovox were absent this year. Alpine didn’t exhibit either although Sony did. Kenwood’s consumer electronics senior VP Keith Lehmann noted, “Our expectations at SEMA have not been met. The return on investment has not panned out for us.” The company originally displayed at SEMA to increase contacts with “technology providers and car providers. We did that through Penske and new media contacts. But from an ROI, to go to the show year in and year out … was not meant to be.”

Other vendors such as Parrot said they were surprised at the high booth traffic given the economic climate. Lehmann said his traffic consisted mainly of “car enthusiasts, the car club members and a lot of solicitors.”

OK, SEMA may not make sense for leading car audio brands at the moment, especially when International CES is held only two months later in the same hall, but it’s still nice to know — even as GM loses $2 billion a month and heads to Washington for a federal bail out — that enthusiasm for car accessories is still high.