SEMA, SEMA, SEMA - Tire Review Magazine


Back from SEMA 2008…no worse for the wear (gratefully).

Like last year, the hot floor (and cocktail party and dinner) topic was the economy and what it would mean to the industry. Last year we watched dozens and dozens of specialty shops close their doors as $3 gas and tighter home budgets killed discretionary income. This year, everyone wondered what would happen to some bigger fish.

That’s a long (very long) discussion for another day. Suffice it to say, things ain’t so good right now and the answers are tougher and tougher with each passing day. In general, though, the mood on the floor was pretty positive. Yes, traffic was noticeably down (as was expected), but most exhibitors said they had a good show and had the chance to talk to dealer principles. Perhaps the attendance letdown, they felt, was due to dealers not bringing multiple folks this year. The TIA events were well attended this year, perhaps better than in 2007 even, and that was a good sign.

Tuesday was a soft day in the South Hall. Things really picked up Wednesday and early Thursday. Many suspect the election held some people back – particularly in California – on opening day. Friday was decent in the morning and then fell off quite a bit later. There was a good bit of early tear down occurring on the floor late Friday; some companies just walked away from their booths around lunchtime.

Heard from sources that the center hall was hopping all week, but that the North end ran about the same as the tire and wheel hall. Heard from others that AAPEX, over at the Sands Convention Center, was hot and cold, too.

Sure, there were a few exhibitors who were sore about the attendance, most of these with more specialized products or with commercial tires. Some vowed to not return, but lacking a true tire show, SEMA is about their only chance to be seen.

But back to the show…not a lot in the way major tire product intros. Cooper rolled out its first eco-tire. Conti unleashed its new ExtremeContact line-up. Falken added a new winter tire. Hercules was showing off its latest lines. Sumitomo has some new truck tires. Yokohama, General, Maxxis, Pirelli and Vee had new products. Vogue Tyre was asking attendee opinions on a couple of sidewall design concepts, both of which I thought were pretty good. There were some line enhancements and other new products, but no real show stopper.

The 15-series tires released by Nexen (on the show floor) and Kumho (at a private reception) left more than a few people perplexed; most often heard was the word, “Why?” Well, not that many years ago we saw the “large wheel diameter nuclear arms race” as tire companies tried to outgun each other. We all asked “Why?” then, too. The answer is “demonstration of technical proficiency,” not tire sales.

Orange seemed to be the hot car color, to be sure. Booth after booth had at least one orange-flavored ride. Falken sported both an orange Smart car and a top end Porsche. That was cool cause orange is my favorite tone.

As always, it was good to see old friends and make a few new ones. Always seem to miss a handful of folks I enjoy spending time with, though. Things might have been lukewarm on the floor, but that didn’t mean our daily schedule was soft.

If you have comments to share, send to me at [email protected].

– Jim Smith

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