SEMA News -- February 2009
INTERNATIONAL

By Linda Spencer

Global Appeal

2008 SEMA Global Media Awards

Forty-seven journalists from 23 countries served as judges forpart of the SEMA Show 2008 Global Media Awards. Participating media were charged with selecting the 10 products that they thought were best suited for their home markets. We talked with the judges about their selections as well as more generally about the unique features of their countries, the trends and types of vehicles found there, and the role government legislation has played in shaping their markets.

Argentina

The most popular upgrades in Argentina are lowering kits, wheels (16 to 18 inches) and multimedia equipment, said Alex Saligari of Pisteros. Paulo Di Renzo of Maxi Tuning noted that classic cars and hot rods are also gaining favor among enthusiasts.

SUVs and/or pickups occupy a very small portion of the consumer market, Saligari said. There are lots of pickups, but Di Renzo said that they are work vehicles and not typically purchased by consumers. Modification laws don’t exist in Argentina, said Saligari.

“In my country, we have a few laws regarding replacement parts but none specifically dealing with modifications,” he said.

The top modified cars in Argentina include the Fiat Palio, Peugeot 206, Renault Clio and VW Golf and Fox.

Awards From Paulo Di Renzo,
Revista Maxi Tuning/Maxi Audio, Argentina

Mobile Suitcase Display, Auto Meter Products
“Interesting product presentation based on a versatile commercial proposal. Variety of models and ranges exhibited with clarity and simplicity.”

American Muscle Gauge Series, Auto Meter Products
“Product of great adaptability for classic cars and hot rods. Exquisite design and notable quality of completion, endorsed by a prestige marque.”

Multi Pro R2, Eibach Springs Inc.
“A specialistic marque that does not stop surprising us with its products. Of great reputation in Argentina, Eibach is synonymous with innovation and experience.”

Jack-Rack, Jack-Rack
“Pickups are the allies of heavy work in the Argentine fields. This product turns out to be very useful to distribute loads and increase the volume of the load.”

Competitor Series Mopar Throttle Assembly, Lokar Performance Products
“Quality of completion and design with the seal of one of the most prestigious companies. Ideal for a sport machine of long ago.”

Steering Wheel Y, Shutt Auto
“Shutt is a very well-known marque in Argentina. Their products always are well-received and are appraised in the majority of professional cars. The chromed details are an exclusive extra feature.”

G-Tech/Pro EGS, Tesla Electronics Inc.
“An efficient and very useful tool for those who look to operate at maximum aptitude at the track. Innovative, versatile and with the endorsement of a reputable company.”

Rattle Tracker, Thomas Automotive Industries
“A work tool that mechanics will adore. Technology is very well received when daily work can be more exact and simple.”

RangeFinderPro, TVK Industries Inc.
“Fascinating. An exquisite gearshift as much at the aesthetic level as at the functional level.”

3D Letter, Young Sung USA
“An accessory of great popularity that is always welcome. The possibility of combining letters and symbols is an added value.”

Australia

Off-roading in Australia usually involves longer distances and more rugged terrain than we are accustomed to in the United States. Said Justin Walker of 4x4 magazine: “Most buyers of off-road vehicles aspire to complete the many 600-mile and above journeys available in Australia. This is the major difference between Australia and the United States. Off-road vehicles in Australia have to be able to withstand hundreds of miles of corrugated dirt tracks as well as a lack of regular fuel supplies. This means most vehicles have aftermarket suspension and additional fuel tanks or the means to carry fuel.”

Trent Nikolic of Overlander 4WD magazine added: “The Australian market is unique in that it possesses an extremely arid, harsh environment a short drive out of most major cities. Australians are keen off-road drivers, and this accessibility to such harsh environments provides an easy opportunity for owners to get out there and use their off-road vehicles and the aftermarket equipment they have fitted to them.”

Off-road vehicles in Australia are typically equipped with diesel engines, and the country’s off-road vehicle market is focused mainly on diesel-powered vehicles because of their superior fuel economy. Customizing for off-road vehicles is also big in Australia.

“Customizing is a significant part of the Australian off-road vehicle market,” said Walker. “Most owners will add specialty equipment to their vehicles after a purchase with the purpose of completing off-road trips on a regular basis. Therefore, good-quality specialty aftermarket equipment plays a large role in the 4WD industry in Australia. A good, reliable product is essential for durability in extremely harsh conditions and also for safety.”

Government regulations adversely affect the industry. Walker said that Australia’s off-road vehicle modifications are severely limited by local regulations and laws. Items such as suspension (maximum lift of 2 inches in most states) and wheel/tire combinations are the most heavily regulated due to safety concerns.

“Tires, wheels and suspension can obviously be completed legally, though, allowing significant increases in vehicle capability on and off the road,” he said. “Other modifications allowed include fitment of frontal protection bars, electric winches, diff locks and long-range fuel tanks. A vehicle’s gross vehicle mass weight is a legal blocking point for adding too much equipment to a vehicle, but this does ensure safe operation of the vehicle.”

Nikolic agreed, noting that local laws in Australia can be suffocating in regard to modifications.

“There is an extensive range of modifications that can be made to all types of vehicles, but basically anything that is nonstandard must be approved by a certified engineer as meeting Australian Design Rules,” he said. “This factor does deter some people from modifying their vehicles.”

Australia is one of a handful of countries with right-hand drive, as in Japan and the United Kingdom. Street Machine Editor Geoff Seddon noted that left-hand-drive cars are permissible in Australia if they are more than 25 years old.

“The right-hand drive thing is an issue,” Seddon said. “I really liked the new Mustang body, but it’s left-hand drive. You could probably get it registered left-hand drive as a 40-year-old car, but left-hand drive is still a pain as an everyday driver. And, yes, you could modify it for right-hand drive, but it kind of compromises the purpose of buying a complete new shell.”

As for what cars are currently on the road in Australia, Seddon explained that the only manufacturers in Australia are General Motors-Holden (GM-H), Ford and Toyota. GM-H and Ford build large six- and eight-cylinder, rear-wheel-drive sedans, utilities (light trucks) and wagons. Toyota builds Camrys, and imports include Nissan, Mitsubishi, Honda, Subaru, Mercedes, VW, Audi, BMW, Renault, Citroën, Hyundai, Kia and Hummer.

“We have a small population of F-100s and F-250s in Australia, but very few GM or Dodge trucks,” Seddon said. “More popular are four-cylinder and V6 light trucks—similar in size to your Ford Ranger—from Ford, Mazda, Toyota, Nissan and Mitsubishi. They are plentiful and cheap as chips to buy second-hand and are so very popular with younger car enthusiasts, especially slammed on airbags.”

There is a ban on vehicles with large engines and performance accessorization. Seddon explained that young drivers are not allowed to drive V8s or supercharged/turbocharged cars in most states of Australia for the first three years of their licence, extending to ages 17 to 20 for most, and there are numerous restrictions regarding the modification of cars in Australia.

“Yes, it can be tough to modify cars in Australia,” said Seddon, “especially late-model cars, although centrifugal superchargers and turbos are popular on late-model Holdens and Fords, as are extractors and big wheels. The older stuff—’50s, ’60s, ’70s—isn’t so bad, so long as it has been approved by an accredited engineer. So it is possible to fit small-block V8s into relatively small cars that never had V8s standard, especially English Fords (Capris and Cortinas) and pre-’68 Holdens and Falcons, provided the rest of the car has been beefed up to handle it. Mild customs with flat-black paint, moon discs, airbags and fluffy dice are a new and growing trend here, as they run fairly standard drivelines and the cops leave them alone. The police mostly target drivers rather than cars (or say they do), and their focus is on the late-model tuner scene dominated by younger male drivers who have the most accidents.

“We recently established the Performance, Racing & Tuning Council. I’m on the committee that oversees it under the umbrella of the Australian Automotive Aftermarket Association, but its influence is marginal at present. The aftermarket trade in the main is conservative and doesn’t want to rock the boat.”

According to Seddon, the pre-’48 hot-rod/street-rod crowd faces the least restrictions. They are very well organized through a formal body, the Australian Street Rod Federation, and have their own sets of rules and street registration, so they have no problem putting a blown Hemi in a ’32 Ford.”

The top modified vehicles in Australia include the Ford Falcon; the Holden Commodore, sedans and coupes, ’48 to present, running small-cube Holden sixes, the 253ci and 308ci V8s and small-block Chevys; Ford Falcon sedans and coupes, ’60 to present, running 302/351ci Windsor and Cleveland V8s and, in more recent years, quad-cam V8s; pre-’71 Ford Mustangs with Windsor V8s; ’55–’57 Chevrolets with small- or big block V8s; large ’60s cruisers, such as Impalas, Parisiennes and Galaxies; V8-powered Holden Commodores of the ’80s, ’90s and ’00s; and the LS-series Chevys since 2000.

On the light-truck side, the top vehicles are the Nissan Patrol, Nissan Navara, Toyota HiLux, Toyota Landcruiser and Toyota Prado.

Awards From Justin Walker,
4X4 Magazine, Australia

High-Output Air Compressor, ARB 4X4 Accessories
“This unit’s impressive speed of operation and reliability offers great appeal to Australian outback travellers. It is already hugely popular Down Under.”

BedRug Mat, BedRug by Wise
“Would be an invaluable addition to any pickup owner’s vehicle to protect the load area. Display showcases the product’s many variants.”

Dunlop Rover M/T Maxx Traction, Dunlop
“A tough mud-terrain tire that would be ideally suited to rugged outback driving conditions.”

Xtreme Guard, Go Rhino! Products/Big Country Truck Accessories
“Vehicle/animal collisions are a big problem in
Australia (plenty of kangaroos, livestock, etc), so this product would be ideally suited to off-road vehicles in Australia.”

Jack-Rack, Jack-Rack
“An excellent, innovative solution to pickup storage. This would be perfect for long-distance outback/off-road travel in Australia, allowing versatility of storage no matter what your needs were.”

V-Series Packaging Display, Mile Marker, Inc.
“There are many electric winches on the market in Australia, so a display that shows the product to the best effect will have an influence on sales to prospective customers.”

AnchorTrax 6-Foot Truck Kit, Mr. Gasket/Prestolite Performance
“This product could be modified to suit the smaller pickups that are extremely popular in the Australian market. Properly securing a load in a pickup is
a safety essential.”

Orange VFD TPMS, Orange Electronic Co. Ltd.
“Due to the long distances travelled by Australian off-roaders, having a reliable tire monitor is a must and can be the difference between patching a slow leak and having to throw away a completely destroyed tire.”

Bill Burke Signature Series Husky 10, Superwinch
“Heavy-duty winches are popular in Australia and with synthetic rope making it safer and easier to handle (as well as lighter), this product would be a hit Down Under.”

Swing Case, Undercover
“Australia’s highest-selling four-wheel drive is a pickup (Toyota HiLux), so this product would be extremely popular both for tradesmen (electricians, plumbers) and travellers. Being able to store essential gear in an easily accessed case like this is ideal.”

Awards From Trent Nikolic, Overlander 4WD Magazine, Australia

Rock 95, Superwinch
“Super light but super strong winch that can be fitted to most different vehicles.”

Anchor Point+ Bike Mount 2-in-1, Seiki
“Perfect for off-roaders and truck owners that take either dirt bikes or mountain bikes out into the bush with them.”

V Series Packaging Display, Mile Marker Inc.
“The V10 and V12 winches are incredibly strong and versatile. Also relevant to almost any off-road vehicle.”

WeatherTech 2008 Mini Clubman Cargo/Truck Liner, MacNeil Automotive Products Ltd.
“A great way to keep the cargo area of your SUV clean. Anything that keeps mud and dirt out of the carpet is welcome off-road.”

Inflaflat, Inflaflat
“Makes off-road tire inflation quick and easy. And using the air from the spare is a clever way of getting out safely, too.”

ProRock Dana 44, Dynatrac Products Co. LLC
“Dana diffs are almost bulletproof, and I think the Dana 44 option for Jeep owners is a great way to get rid of that weak frontend.”

Jeep Wrangler TJ Switch Panel, Daystar Products
“The Jeep Wrangler panel switch means you don’t have to hack up your dashboard if you want to add more switches to your TJ Wrangler.”

Eight-Piece 8,000-lb. WLL Rigging Kit, Bulldog Winch Co. LLC
“A strong and well-packaged recovery kit for any off-roader.”

High-Output Portable Air Compressor, ARB 4X4 Accessories
“A high-output compressor is important for any off-roader, and a portable 12V one is even better.”

Competition Snatch Block 9000, ARB 4X4 Accessories
“Sturdy, and a must-have addition to any kit.”

Awards From Geoff Seddon,
Street Machine, Australia

American Muscle Car Gauges, Auto Meter Products
“What’s not to like? They’d look great in my ’67 Ford Galaxie.”

ChaseCam Auto-Record, ChaseCam
“What a fun product, whether on the dragstrip, race circuit or street. Cars are all about fun, and what a great way to capture it.”

Tubing Bending Pliers, Dynapex Performance
“Clever and simple. A great product that won’t break the bank, but is very useful for building race cars, hot rods and street machines.”

FMX Ford Overdrive, Gear Vendors Overdrive
“These bolt-on overdrives are a good thing, allowing for short diff gears to aid acceleration, but lowered revs at cruising speeds, typically 110–120 km/h (70–75 mph) in Australia. There is very little stuff for FMX gearboxes here, so it’s good to see Gear Vendors looking after people like me.”

Pivot Jack, Mittler Bros. Machine & Tool
“Another clever product, if a little expensive, but it makes up for that with killer finish and style. Love it. Who thought a car jack could work and look so good?”

AnchorTrax 6-Foot Truck Kit, Mr Gasket/Prestolite Performance
“I also own a light truck. Easy to fit, works a treat.”

Powerfire, Professional Products
“I liked the price, and I especially liked the external timing adjustment knob.”

Powerjection, Professional Products
“The way of the future and my overall winner. The earlier versions are all the rage over here (we’re running a big fit-up story in our January 2009 issue), and getting it all within one unit is awesome. Would kill to put one on my 390.”

Portable Pit Stop Ramp, Race Ramps/Brute Industries
“Another strong favorite. Awesome at the dragstrip and the salt lakes (I do both). Very handy at home; light; easy to use; and strong. Spoke to manufacturer who already had enquiries from Australia but concedes bulky nature makes shipping expensive.”

Exhaust Diverter, Race Ready Performance
“These may not be legal in Australia, but who has to know? A little naughty perhaps, but a great idea. Simple, effective and appeals to my outlaw side.”

Brazil

“In my opinion, the main difference [between the Brazilian and U.S. markets] is the financial status of the tuning lovers,” said Fabricio Mendonça Migues of Autosporte magazine. “In Brazil, people would love to modify cars as they do in the United States, but a big percentage of this group doesn’t have enough money to prepare the engine, brakes and all of the visual changes together. So they end up changing just the suspension and/or the wheels. But the Brazilian style follows U.S. style, not the European style. In Brazil, the most popular kind of tuning is DUB.”

Josias Mendes da Silveira of Hot magazine noted that the best-selling Brazilian cars are normally made from Europeans models that are smaller and more economical. The most unique feature in Brazil, he said, is the fact that ethanol is the favorite fuel and is also used in performance engines. The most common upgrades include wheels, lowering kits and interior customization.

“In Brazil,” according to Miguel Ricardo Puerta of Revista Car Tuning, “it’s common to lower the vehicle; install big wheels; and modify external and internal parts, the sound system and engine power.”

Musclecars are also becoming very popular in Brazil, with enthusiasts investing large amounts in them. That could mean a good opportunity for appropriate products. However, the majority of Brazil’s market is composed of front-wheel drive sport-compact cars with four-cylinder engines, said Eduardo Bernasconi of Full Power magazine.

“Performance upgrades are welcome for the engine and mechanical parts such as brakes, suspension, lightweight wheels and exhaust systems,” Bernasconi said. “The difference between Brazil and the United States is that our market is not so big. We have fewer consumers, fewer stores, fewer products. Credit is not so easy to get as it is—or was—in the United States. Performance is a very good market, even with few racetracks. In 2009, we’ll have a brand-new speedway in São Paulo, and it will be a great step to getting the market recognized.”

Carlos Guimaraes of Car magazine said that the Brazilian market included around 3 million units sold in 2008, but most people can afford only small and inexpensive cars. However, about 10% of buyers are always looking for new and expensive models, such as BMWs, Mercedes-Benzes, Audis, Ferraris, Porsches, Lamborghinis, Lotuses, etc.

“It’s important to know that Brazilians love cars,” Guimaaraes said, “in spite of the high taxes—around 40% of the price—and the expensive loans we have here. So the Brazilian market is very different from the American market, where the loans are cheaper and there are lower taxes.”

The journalists we talked to commented that customization is hampered by laws and regulations. When asked about restrictions on customizing, Bernasconi said that the laws now are a little better.

“A new resolution was released a few weeks ago, and a car can be changed in almost every way, but approval is still required to get it documented and become allowed to be daily driven,” he said. “Right now it is permitted to get the engine turbocharged or get gains in performance. The suspension can be lowered to a minimum predetermined height, and special painting is also allowed. Wheel and tire changeover are also okay.”

Tiago Toricelli added that the industry has been working diligently to ease the laws regarding modifications. “There are a lot of people working for this,” he said,” but extreme customization is not allowed at the moment.”

“We dont have too many modified trucks,” said Bernasconi. “There are very low numbers in SUV and light truck, but there are plenty of what manufacturers are calling ‘lifestyle trucks’ based on compact cars. They’re the same as a compact car but with a bed behind. I would say mini-trucks, trucks and lifestyle trucks represent less than 10% in the modified car market.”

Added Toricelli, “SUVs and pickups in Brazil are niche markets. They have a specific audience. They don’t occupy the same space as normal cars. You can see this, for example, in the numbers of magazines about cars and pickups. We have many more magazines about cars than pickups.”

The top modified vehicles in Brazil include the Audi A3, Chevrolet Opala, Fiat Palio, Ford Maverick and GT40, Honda Civic, Jaguar XK120, Porsche 356 and 550 Spyder, Shelby Cobra, VW Beetle, Gol and Golf. Light trucks include the Dodge Dakota/Ram, the GM Montana and the VW Saveiro.

Awards From Miguel Ricardo Puerta,
Revista Car Tuning, Brazil

TiRM, Aicona Wheels
“The sport look is very attractive, and the red internal strip attracts attention.”

Air Runner TC-5, Air Runner
“Interesting technology that permits altering the vehicle’s height to five different levels with a simple button.”

American Muscle Gauge Series, Auto Meter Products
“Gauges that really fit and in a musclecar look.”

Autonet Mobile, Autonet Mobile
“Great idea for carpooling.”

Dashdaq, Drew Technologies Inc.
“Useful equipment that offers various information from one source.”

Competition Series Mopar Throttle Assemblies and Pedal Pads, Lokar Performance Products
“Great-looking items that surely will impress any car lover.”

ARS, Maxima
“Impressive equipment that offers one-touch information of many desired data.”

Dual-Screen Portable DVD Players, NextBase-USA
“Great idea for the kids during that long drive.”

TRK Pedal Pad, Shutt Auto
“Modern design that will complete any car lover’s dream.”

G-Tech/Pro EGS, Tesla Electronics Inc.
“Great looking and useful for the true competitive driver.”

Awards From Josias Mendes da Silveira,
Hot Magazine, Brazil

1969 Mustang Replacement Body Shell, Dynacorn Classic Bodies Inc.
“Even in Brazil, the Mustang is a success among collectors, and replacements for Mustang bodies are hard to find.”

MPE 850 Four-Stroke High-Performance Engine, Weber Motor
“In Brazil, more than 50% of the cars use engines of 1,000 cc, and a compact and efficient motor of 850 cc, such as Weber’s, certainly has a good market.”

Extreme Green Machine, Extreme Bio-Diesel
“My country is one of the global leaders in alternative fuel, such as ethanol and biodiesel. A compact processor of biodiesel could be a solution to recycle used vegetable oil.”

BedTred, BedRug by Wise
“This rubber surface to protect a pickup bed could be used in our vehicles. Easy fit and low price are the main qualities.”

Kiwi, PLX Devices Inc.
“A good and easy way to teach how to save fuel. And fuel is very expensive in Brazil.”

Dashdaq, Drew Technologies Inc.
“Combining gauges in a one-touch screen can save time in maintenance and prevent engine problems. Lots of information electronically monitored, and navigation in an easy way.”

G-Tech/Pro EGS, Tesla
“Another multifunctional electronic instrument, with all the data in a classic tachometer style.”

SmartMirror, Azentek
“GPS navigation is a new success in the Brazilian market. This inventive product can be easily sold in my country.”

Passport9500ix, Beltronics Radar Detectors
“Radar and speed traps are a huge problem in Brazil. An efficient detector can save money and avoid problems with the law.”

15-Minute Headlight Restoration Kit, CrystalLiner & Voyager Spray Systems
“The sun and chemical products in Brazil deteriorate the headlight’s plastic lens very often. This product can restore these lenses and improve safety with better light on the road.”

Awards From Renato Mendes,
USAC News, Brazil

Competition Series Instruments, Auto Meter Products
“This product caught my attention from its racing look and high-definition illumination. It’s a good choice for those who look for shine and precision clocks.”

Autonet Mobile, Autonet Mobile
“A good product for any country. It’s the first wireless Internet service made for automobiles, making the WiFi system available for any numbers of users. It’s modern, practical and high-tech.”

Dashdaq, Drew Technologies Inc.
“This product doesn’t exist in Brazil, and it’s very useful because it does an entire technical check-up of the basic items of the car, such as performance and navigation data.”

Eight-Way Adjustable Billet Streetrod Shocks, Edelbrock Corp./Russell Performance
“Beautiful chrome body and design, this product has eight different types of adjustments of compression and rebound, depending upon how much the owner needs or wants.”

Evolution CTS, Edge Products
“What attracted me to this product was the touch-screen technology in so small a piece. It displays, through smart software, the development of motor data to help teach how you can economize fuel.”

Dual-Screen Portable DVD Players, NextBase-USA
“It’s portable, high quality and is a perfect size to put on the seat back. The definition of the display image is very impressive.”

Illuminators LED Modules, PlasmaGlow
“The module lamp group has a high intensity not seen in Brazil.”

Black Ice Alloys-B7–Envisio, Topline Products
“There are some similar models of wheels in Brazil, but not as beautiful and intensive. The design mixes chrome and black colors, and it’s built with high-resistance materials.”

Tow Hitch, Bosal-Oris/Bosal Performance
“I chose this product because it is compact and can be fully retracted in an exact position. This tow hitch fits the Brazilian laws, which forbid sharp corners.”

TiRM, Aicona Wheels
“This wheel looks like something never seen before in Brazil. It has a special texture in the paint, marrying the black color with red details in a unique design. Harmonious and dynamic at the same time.”

Awards From Eduardo Bernasconi,
Full Power Magazine, Brazil

American Muscle Gauge Series, Auto Meter Products
“New line for a market that is growing fast in Brazil, the musclecars and old cars.”

6R Race-Series 6-Piston Caliper, Baer Brake Systems
“It’s very difficult to find brakes upgrade in Brazil. This one could be well-received.”

HDi Clamp, Hybrid-Development International Pty. Ltd.
“We have just a few clamps and not so strong as the HDi one. With a growing performance market, it’ll be good to buy it here.”

OT-2, Innovate Motorsports
“Consumers have almost nothing to buy in interfaces. This one can provide a lot of information.”

Pivot Jack, Mittler Bros. Machine & Tool
“Auto shops work with just traditional equipment. The new pivot jack in aluminum is very different, has more features and is lighter.”

Accel Pro 25 Sleeved Race Wire, Mr. Gasket/Prestolite Performance
“New product for a growing performance market.”

Mallory CT Pro Ignition, Mr. Gasket/Prestolite Performance
“New product for a growing performance market.”

iMFD Data Logger, PLX Devices Inc.
“Consumers have almost nothing to buy in interfaces. This one can provide a lot of information.”

R1 Plus 12-Inch Rear Disc Brake Kit, Stainless Steel Brakes Corp.
“It’s very difficult to find brake upgrades in Brazil. This one could be well-received.”

Canada

“The automotive aftermarket in Canada tends to feed off very similar trends and products as those found in the American market,” said Mark Pereira of Performance Auto & Sound magazine. U.S. products are popular in Canada, supplying the vast majority of the specialty-equipment market. Many Canadians purchase their products direct from the United States over the Internet, and Periera cautioned U.S. companies to pay close attention to their pricing structure.

“When it comes to consumers, Canadian enthusiasts are known for meticulous ‘smart shopping’ and often utilize online and print resources for reviews and product comparisons,” he said. “Average Canadian tuners want to ensure that they get the most performance per dollar, as high awareness of attractive prices in the nearby U.S. market (even after shipping, taxes and duties) are more appealing and notably inexpensive compared to Canadian MSRPs for the same products. Companies that pay close attention to this relationship know that being successful in our market requires careful price structure and adjustments to earn the business and confidence of Canadian consumers.”

As in the United States, light trucks—and the accessories and performance products to upgrade them—are in high demand in Canada. “Our weather conditions and long travel distances drive us to install comfort products, performance and fuel-saving products” noted Albert Vandervelde of 4WD magazine.

Regarding the legal environment, Pereira said that the laws in Canada change from province to province, and Ontario legislation seems to be among the most strict and vague in terms of vehicle customization.

“Recently introduced and often criticized laws aimed to curb ‘street racing or stunt driving’ often result in very questionable vehicle seizures before due process in front of a judge can take place,” he said. “All Ontario vehicles are also subject to mandatory emissions testing.”

The top modified vehicles in Canada include the Ford Mustang; Honda Civic; Nissan 350Z/G35; Subaru WRX/STI; and VW Golf and Jetta. Among light trucks, the most popular are the Jeep Wrangler, Ford Super Duty, Dodge Ram and Toyota Tundra.

Awards From Mark Pereira,
Performance Auto & Sound Magazine, Canada

2004–2006 Subaru WRX STI Programmable Engine Management System, AEM
“The experts at AEM have perfected impressive plug-and-play engine management systems for countless vehicles. The popularity and tuning potential of the WRX/STI is what puts this turbo AWD performance car at the top of every tuner’s wish list, making the AEM system a perfect answer for those looking to crank it up.”

Beltronics Pro GX65, Beltronics Radar Detectors
“The Beltronics Pro Series continues to bring consumers the most sophisticated radar detection and protection. Thanks to its innovative built-in GPS, the GX65 offers much more than the impressive detection we’ve come to expect from this exciting device. With radar and laser detection, fewer false alerts and red-light camera protection, the intuitive Pro GX65 unit seems to meet even the most demanding driver’s specific needs.”

XHD7720, Dual Electronics Corporation
“This innovative Dual XHD7720 takes iPod controls and integration to a new level with its iTunes tagging feature. You’ll never have to hunt for mysterious song titles or artists again. Just tag it, and the info will be stored at your fingertips for your downloading pleasure.”

OT-2, Innovative Motorsports
“Innovative Motorsports seems to have a real hit with the clean, easy-to-use and informative OT-2 OBD-II interface. The OT-2 allows you to view virtually all advanced OBD-II diagnostics and info from the convenience of your Apple iPhone or iTouch via some very slick software.”

KHC-1200, Kinetik
“Specifically designed for car audio and high-performance applications, the Kinetik KHC-1200 is a lot of power in a compact and reliable package. Kinetik power cells are used by top car audio competitors and installers, making them a solid choice for any enthusiast’s power demands.”

Sony NV-U94T, Sony Electronics Inc.
“The Sony NV-U94T provides more than directions, as brand icons, enhanced search functionality, photo viewing, Bluetooth hands-free calling and available audio/video player make Sony’s Nav-U fun and easy to use.”

Spec Super Twin Clutch and Flywheel Assembly for Mitsubishi Evolution X, Spec Clutches & Flywheels
“When it comes to high-horsepower applications, finding the right combination of pedal effort, feel and clamping power can be a tough combination for a conventional single-disc design. Thankfully, Spec offers a twin-disc clutch and flywheel setup we can all live with for the popularly modified EVO X.”

STS Turbo Corvette Kit, STS Turbo
“The legendary Corvette just got faster with help from the turbo experts at STS Turbo. As pioneers in remote-mounted turbo kits, the STS engineers have certainly outdone themselves by offering Vette owners a tire-shredding 700+ hp.”

G-Tech/Pro EGS, Tesla Electronics Inc.
“Not your average tachometer, G-Tech’s Pro EGS provides all the instant data and performance you could ever need. Being able to record, play and review valuable vehicle data and measurements via simple plug and play means you receive instant feedback right on the tachometer-style graphic display.”

Switchable License Plate Film, TricPlate.com
“It may not make your car any faster, but this product certainly helps keep your privacy at a touch of a button. With motorcycle and automobile applications, TricPlate is perfect for enthusiasts seeking to conceal and protect their vehicles at the track or any car show events.”

China

“Pickups in China are scarce,” said Jeson Chen of Auto News China. “This is because pickups are not allowed to be driven into the major metropolitan areas. SUVs, on the other hand, have a huge influence in the Chinese automotive aftermarket. Many brands are currently being sold in China, such as Rancho, Pro-Comp, Warn, Thule, ARB and TJM. In China, SUV growth has been more than 50%. Many SUV owners are into small crossovers, such as Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, Mitsubishi Outlander and Hyundai Santa Fe. However, these crossover owners are not yet educated about the automotive aftermarket and what they can do to customize their vehicles.”

The top modified vehicles in China include the Audi A4, Ford Focus, Honda Civic, Fit and Odyssey, Mitsubishi EVO, Peugeot 206, Soueast Lioncel, Subaru Impreza WRX, Suzuki Swift and VW Golf and Bora. Top light trucks include the Toyota Landcruiser and the Hummer.

Awards From Jeson Chen,
Auto News China, China

Mobile Suitcase Display, Auto Meter Products
“In China, most consumers are not going to be able to afford complicated remote racing equipment. This Mobile Suitcase Display is very convenient for promotional and demonstration use.”

Bilstein MDS System Ferrari F430 GT2/Corvette C6R GT1, Bilstein Shock Absorbers
“Although this is a product that professional racing technicians will be able to utilize, it would be a great product to bring into the China market to better our technical knowledge. This particular product is to be used for the Ferrari F430 GT2/Corvette C6R GT1. My intent in selecting this product does not limit it to the above applications.”

Dashdaq, Drew Technologies
“If all of these functions can be placed on one open platform, this would be extremely convenient to vehicle owners. Magnificent!”

Isis InTouch Control Module, Isis by Littelfuse
“Although not a lot of people in the current Chinese market want to completely change their system module, this would be a great product for secondhand owners who want to upgrade their vehicles if the original control module consistently has problems. Great replacement parts for the secondhand-vehicle market in China.”

MiFi Technology Point-of-Purchase Display, Mile Marker Inc.
“This winch remote-control system is very thoughtfully developed. It achieves strength and power but at the same time is very safe to use. There has previously not been a winch control with an alarm for excessive temperature or excessive voltage.”

Optima RedTop Group 78, Optima Batteries
“This product directly transfers the battery from the two sides to better accommodate the high and low voltage.”

SHF-3000, Steelmate Co. Ltd.
“Eliminating echo would be the strongest selling point. Consumers in the Chinese market would especially welcome such products into the marketplace. This product can represent a very high level of performance and quality.”

Black Ice Alloys-B2–Slitt, Topline Products
“This wheel’s design and fitment is especially suitable for SUVs and compact vehicles. There are fitments of this wheel that would go great with Range Rover, Cadillac Escalade, Lincoln Navigator and BMW X5, and these are all very common luxury SUV vehicles currently seen in China.”

Lithium XS Power Battery, XS Power
“Small, compact, versatile, more than 10 years of warranty. This product would be popular among the racing and performance selections, although the price is too high.”

iBAR/D3400, XS Power
“This would be a great product for China because of its standardized usage and highly adaptive design. It has a high degree of tolerance.”

Denmark

Extremely high car taxes help shape the Danish market. “What is keeping the business alive and kicking in Denmark is the fact that we have a car tax of 180%,” Said Michael Holt of Vmax. “Yes, to make this clear, you pay for three cars and get one. Terrible! Most people do not buy the car they want. They want the VW Golf Mk IV GTI, but can afford only the 1.6L. And then they modify it over time to suit their needs. Danes are car nuts and keep spending big money.”

Motorsports are popular in Denmark, Holt said. “We have a large scene for racing in Denmark, and some of these very expensive products will be interesting for the Danish market. We have lots of people spending big bucks on their race cars who are always looking for the newest and best products—and they do not care about the price. They just want the best.”

Danes are interested in innovative products from the United States that fit the cars sold in Denmark, such as products to fit the VW Golf. “We get so many products that feel and look the same from Germany and England,” Holt said, “so it is refreshing when foreign manufactures make something for ‘our’ cars.”

The market for SUVs and light trucks is extremely small in Denmark. Holt said that new tax rules make SUVs very expensive to buy, and he noted that there are few pickups in Denmark. Statistics illustrate this point: In 2007, fewer than 100 Mitsubishi L200s and only 65 Ford Rangers and 55 Dodge Rams were sold.

Holt said that regulations regarding customization are rather restrictive but not a major deterrent for enthusiasts. “We have pretty strict rules in Denmark, but they are not hysterical,” he explained. “If you have the right documentation for the product, it is not a problem. Everything with the ‘E’ mark is allowed, and more and more companies are working on getting this.”

The top modified cars in Denmark include American musclecars, the Audi A4, MW E46, Golf IV and Peugeot 206.

Awards From Michael Holt,
Vmax, Denmark

Isis inTouch Control Module, Isis by Littelfuse
“We love wireless, and this is a perfect tool for the car builder who is skilled and needs control of the electronics.”

Powerfire, Professional Products
“The external knob with adjustment of the timing seems like one of the best ideas this year!”

GPS Pulse Generator, Nordskog Instruments
“This is a cool gadget, but also imagine all the wiring that you can get rid of—which I like in a customized car.”

Lava Wrap, Heatshield Products
“Wrap is cool and a cheap way to make your engine bay look better and more racy, plus you get the cooling benefits. And this new color is cool!”

Lithium XS Power Battery, XS Power
“Space is always an issue in a race car or car stereo installation. This product seems perfect for lots of needs!”

Turbonetics TNX-122, Turbonetics
“It seems like we have a turbocharger race in Denmark. And people want them bigger and bigger. This should meet the needs of some of the hardcore boys.”

Turbonetics Proto BOV, Turbonetics
“Yes, another prize for Turbonetics, but I am a really big fan of their products. If you have a turbocharged car in Denmark, you will buy a BOV! And people are always looking for something different and innovative.”

Synapse Boost Connect, Synapse Engineering Inc.
“I find the boost controllers on the market a bit boring, so it is very nice to see something new. And the design is fantastic.”

LumaFlex LED Strips, PlasmaGlow
“Everybody wants the LED-strip look from the new Audis. This is by far the hottest trend in Denmark right now styling-wise. This product seems to be the universal product lots of people are looking for.”

Germany

Germany’s extensive regulations regarding car customization are the most unique feature of this market. Expensive testing is required for manufacturers, typically by product and by application.

“The TUEV, the technical inspection institution, has to approve much of the stuff with which you try to modify your car or truck,” said Arno Welke, editor for 12 specialty automotive titles, including Chrom & Flammen. “It’s not always easy to get new products through the German TUEV. There are many regulations a car/truck has to fulfill for the German TUEV. Of course, it normally allows new wheels, aerodynamic kits, lowered suspension, new interior parts and exhaust systems—as long as they stay under the maximum noise the TUEV allows. But you always have to have the TUEV’s approval.”

Karlheinz Mutz of Gummi Bereifung concurred, noting that pedestrian safety, exhaust and noise requirements restrict the scope of tuning, such as increases in performance; improvement of drag factors for a more streamlined body; wheels and tires; and the design and styling of the cockpit.

The German association VDAT estimates the size of the market at 4.8 billion euros ($6.2 billion USD). As for the type of tuning, key upgrades, according to Mutz, are chip tuning and a cautious tuning of the car body. High-end tuners play a significant role in the German market.

“The German automotive industry places orders of special series with, for example, Brabus, AC Schnitzer or Carlsson,” said Mutz. “The difference between Germany and the United States is that the focus in Germany is on subtle tuning, whereas it is on more muscular tuning in the United States.”

Tuning for SUVs is big business, but the market for pickups is quite small, the editors said. Pickups are considered as purpose-built vehicles by their drivers.
“With SUVs, however, it is quite another matter,” he said. “Here the owners try to eliminate the stout appearance of the cars by more refined and elegant forms.”

Pickups and SUVs are covered in Welke’s US-Car-Scene magazine. He said that it would be interesting to have more products for SUVs or pickups, but more generally geared products are easier to sell.

The top modified cars in Germany include the BMW X6 Falcon, Porsche 911 Turbo, Opel Astra/Vectra, VW Golf/Rabbit and Polo, BMW 3 Series, Opel Corsa, Mercedes C class, Porsche Cayenne and Honda Civic.

Awards From Karlheinz Mutz,
Gummi Bereifung, Germany

TiRM, Aicona Wheels
“The tuned wheel shape makes traction easier. The double-spoke wheel will provide a feast for the eyes on tuned white or silver-colored vehicles.”

The Pro Step, Big Step Products
“In the category Best Engineered New Product, this carries conviction by its clear shapes and a big display.”

MiFi Technology Point-of-Purchase Display, Mile Marker Inc.
“The winch control system has a compact display. It shows the results at once and is very clearly laid out.”

Accel DFI Thruster Ignition Control Modules, Mr. Gasket/Prestolite Performance
“The management systems for car engines improve the performance, traction and the economical use of fuel. By these features, the product is in line with requirements for the future.”

375/20ZR21 XL (103Y) PZero Nero, Pirelli Tire
“It provides the car driver with outstanding performance even at high speeds and all in line with really high standards of safety.”

Awards From Arno Welke,
Chrom & Flammen, Germany

CarChip for Telematics, Davis Instruments Corp.
“A quite nice solution to get the driving and engine info on my car without having to drive to the repair shop and pay much money.”

DoorPal Ding Prevention System, DoorPal Ding Prevention System
“The name says it all. Very easy to install and quite effective.”

1964–1966 Mustang Radiator/Fan Combo, Flex-a-lite Consolidated
“In Germany, we have quite a lot of Mustang fans and owners, so this kind of combo is a nice way to solve the heat problem that some of these classic ’Stangs have.”

MasterShift Paddle Shifter for Tremec TKO, MasterShift
“A really cool idea and an easy way to convert my car into a real sporty car. Paddle shifting was reserved for real motorsports and highly priced cars, such as Lamborghinis. It isn’t any more. Nice!”

Programmable Fuel Control for Boost, MSD Ignition
“Nice thing! Now everyone is able to adjust the boost pressure at his own laptop.”

LED Taillights for Jeep CJ, Omix-Ada/Rugged Ridge
“Sometimes the original CJ taillights seem to be a bit dark, so here’s the alternative—not to mention the quicker LED response and the more modern look of the Jeep when it is installed.”

Race Ramps 5-Inch Rack Ramps, Race Ramps/Brute Industries
“Really cool! Very easy to transport because of the light weight of the ramps. Not only nice for the garage or shop but also to beautifully present your car at a show or meeting.”

1934 Three-Window Coupe, Steve’s Auto Restorations Inc.
“High-quality reproduction body of a real classic. Need we say more?”

1968 Mustang GT-Steve McQueen Bullitt, The Franklin Mint
“One of the most legendary car-chase movies ever. An interesting model of the main automobile actor.”

Prima Airfluid Plus, Wagner Industrial Solutions
“Compact in design, easy and good to use.”

Italy

The specialty-equipment market in Italy is currently under siege. “The different laws about homologation of the products is the biggest difference, because a lot of products can’t be used for street-legal cars in Italy,” said Pieluigi Mancini of Elaborare. Very few upgrades are possible—typically only those that can’t be seen. “So the market feels this problem and important Italian companies suffer,” Manicini said, “but the passion is the same between the United States and Italy.”

As with most of the rest of Europe, light trucks—particularly pickups—are quite rare, though SUVs are popular. The top modified vehicles in Italy include the Alfa Romeo 147, Fiat 500, Punto, MINI Cooper and Peugeot 207.

Awards From Pieluigi Mancini,
Elaborare, Italy

Narrow Mount (Heim) Monotube Coil-Over for Street Rods, Bilstein Shock Absorbers
“A great component, ideal for Italian track-day tuning.”

Cosworth Mazda MX5 Supercharger, Cosworth LLC
“The best solution for the powerless Miata. A great success, maybe, in Italy!”

Multi Pro R2, Eibach Springs Inc.
“A great product for people who are looking for dampers for competition or track day. Great construction!”

OT-2, Innovate Motorsports
“Great gain, beautiful chip and very fashionable. Another jewel from Innovate. Great also in Italy!”

69-7071TS 2007-08 Nissan 350Z V6-3.5L, K&N Engineering Inc.
“K&N makes great products, and this is the proof. A great solution. Very cheap to give power to a great car!”

375/20ZR21 XL (103Y) PZero Nero, Pirelli Tire
“We need a 20-inch tire. Great in performance and not only in looks.”

Lowering Kit for the Toyota Tundra, RCD Suspension
“An intelligent, simple solution for raising the Toyota vehicle.”

1968 Mustang GT-Steve McQueen Bullitt, The Franklin Mint
“A great Christmas gift… for me! Hahahahahah!”

Z-Chip, Zeitronix
“The best solution to find over 100 CV with few dollars in a car that needs power!”

Awards From Umberto Circi, Car Italy, Italy

Brembo Big Brake System for GM Musclecars, Classic Performance Products
“Very good assembly and design with the possibility of applications on production super cars and not just musclecars.”

Gentex Rear Camera Display Auto Dimming Mirror With OnStar, MITO Corporation
“Price, design and easy use.”

Motonav TN20, Motorola
“Price, design and easy use.”

375/20ZR21 XL (103Y) PZero Nero, Pirelli Tire
“Design and technology with performance.”

1968 Mustang GT-Steve McQueen Bullitt, The Franklin Mint
“Fidelity to the legendary vehicle used in the movie.”

Paparazzi PZ-84, VentureCraft Inc.
“This is the best product I have seen at SEMA in term of application in our market. It could be a real revolution in the Italian insurance jungle. It could be helpful in decreasing legal action and reducing insurance costs for the customers. I believe if they proposed this product to Italian insurance companies, they would have a big success in term of business and popularity.”

Mexico

The Mexican specialty-equipment market is free of most government restrictions, in sharp contrast to other customizing markets such as Brazil, Europe and Australia. “In Mexico everything is permitted,” said Mariano Ecija of Car Magazine Mexico.

As in the United States, light trucks play a significant role in Mexico, particularly in the northern portions of the country.

“On the border with the United States, there is a greater influence for this type of vehicle and greater purchase of accessories for SUVs and trucks,” explained Daniel Garcia of RPM magazine. “There is not as much for the central zone. Most people use small cars because of the cost of gasoline. We have a small market that surely needs years to grow.”

Guadalajara and Monterrey are particularly good markets for light trucks, since these vehicles are often heavily accessorized. As for the type of upgrades, wheels, tires and body kits are among the most popular accessories, but the growth of the tuning market is hampered by the lack of trained installers.

“People prefer to customize their cars only outside,” said Ecija. “Some use the best interiors, but most of them never touch the engine.”

The top modified cars in Mexico include the Chevrolet Astra/Corsa, Chevy and Camaro; Dodge Neon; Ford Maverick and Mustang; Honda Civic; Nissan Tsuru; and VW Jetta.

Awards From Daniel Garcia,
RPM, Mexico

25/8-inch Through-the-Dial LED Gauges, AutoMeter Products
“AutoMeter is a company that continues modernizing musclecars. I like the style offered for the indicators.”

Steering Wheel Quick Tilt With Lock, NRG Innovations
“A very effective and simple product to use against the theft of cars.”

Garage Pro Detailing Center, Surf City Garage
“The display is very showy, but with the capacity to store several products.”

G-Tech/Pro EGS, Tesla Electronics
“This product can be an indicator of multiple functions for the tuning car and quarter-mile.”

CounterAct Hummer/Land Rover Anti-Corrosion System, Counteract CPR
“This product can contain greater information about the product and is indispensable in that it contains several languages. In addition, the graphs are well-defined.”

6R Race-Series Six-Piston Caliper, Baer Brake Systems
“It is very important to have the best spare parts in our cars. For that reason, 6R-Calipers is good technology that offers security and is made of a very light material.”

Chrome & Powder Coated T304 SS Exhaust Tips, Sebring Tuning
“The style that we choose for our cars is of quality.”

Gentex Rear Camera Display Auto Dimming Mirror with OnStar, Mito Corporation
“A product that can be very functional for SUVs and trucks.”

1969 Mustang Fastback Replacement Body Shell, Dynacorn Classic Bodies Inc.
“In Mexico, we continue looking for Mustangs to modify. Every day, it is more difficult to find them. Now, with this new option, we can have a new Mustang in our garage.”

Carroll Shelby Wheel Company CS48, Shelby Automobiles Inc.
“Good product. We have great enthusiasm for the renovation of Mustangs. If we find a product guaranteed by the company/signature of Carroll Shelby, it is quality assurance.”

Awards From Mariano Ecija,
Car Magazine Mexico, Mexico

6P Pro-Series Six-Piston Caliper, Baer Brake Systems
“My job as an opinion leader is to talk about safety. That’s why I chose these six-piston calipers.”

F1 Scoot-A-Long Car, C&N Reproductions Inc.
“I don’t have children, but when I do, I want him or her to have fun in this kind of car.”

DoorPal Ding Prevention System, DoorPal Ding Prevention System
“I hate the people who hit other car doors, so it’s good to tell them that they can be safe with this product.”

Neoprene Jack Cover, Hi-Lift Jack Company
“I love to race so, it’s good to take care of you car components in and outside.”

Inflaflat, Inflaflat
“The best of the best! Forget the run-flats, gas sprays and 911; giving the tire 5 lbs. from the other tires is faster and easier.”

V10 Electric Winch, Mile Marker Inc.
“In Mexico, people are buying more and more SUVs and off-road trucks, so this winch could be very useful.”

Mothers California Gold Clay Bar, Mothers Polishes Waxes
“Our cars are extensions of us, so if they’re dirty, we are dirty. This kind of product is great to take care of our cars.”

F14 Stealth, Pareto Point Industries
“Knowing about your engine oil’s life is very good so that you can always replace it in time. And it’s better if you receive messages in your mobile phone telling you what is happening.”

Kiwi, PLX Devices
“In this time of crisis and chaos, saving money and less CO2 for the planet is the solution. That’s why I choose Kiwi. I want to know if I’m driving in the right form.”

Car Mirror, Quality Microelectronics Co. Ltd.
“Safety is first when you are backing up with your big trucks or SUVs.”

Touch Screen Xtreme, SCT
“This Bluetooth wireless flash tuning is perfect for knowing how your car is. It’s like a doctor’s examination.”

Boost Cooler MPG-Max-Diesel, Snow Performance
“I agree with other fuels and technologies, especially if you save money.”

Rattle Tracker, Thomas Automotive Industries
“My family business is a garage, and we have to test the cars on the streets. I have already asked for this great diagnostic tool, which will help us to grow the business.”

New Zealand

Japanese cars—particularly used vehicles—are big in this small country, and the new-vehicle mix is similar to what is available in Australia, with a significant number of new vehicles on the roads being imported Australian-built U.S. brands.

“New Zealand is a small country—population of 5 million—to sustain a standalone auto manufacturing industry, so it has to rely on imported products along with the government allowing low import tariffs on goods in this market sector,” said New Zealand-based Alastair Ritchie of ARL. “As a result, New Zealand has had a constant flow of affordable used Japanese cars alongside new Australian-built GM and Ford products for the last 20-plus years. The used import industry dwarfs the New Zealand new-car sector. This has generated a popular tuner market. especially in the Japanese import and 4WD fields.”

Kiwi off-roaders typically customize their vehicles. The majority of daily drivers remain stock, but New Zealand’s climate and soft or muddy conditions usually result in fairly serious modifications for those wishing to venture off-road, according to Ritchie. But at least the laws haven’t been described as a major hindrance…yet.

“Customizing has been very free and easy; hence, the popularity,” Ritchie said. “But the modification regulations in recent times have tightened to some degree. It’s generally still easy going as long as a one-time engineering safety certificate can be obtained. New Zealand has no smog test, wheel size or power upgrade restrictions, but it does have a six-monthly safety Warrant of Fitness test to pass.”

The top modified vehicles in New Zealand include the Mazda RX-7, Mitsubishi Evo, Nissan Skyline, Subaru WRX and various Toyotas. Top light trucks include Jeeps, the Nissan Patrol and the Toyota Hilux (Tacoma).

Awards From Alastair Ritchie,
ARL, New Zealand

Competition Series Instruments, Auto Meter
“I liked this new range of instruments. Easy to read in all lighting conditions and packed with features at a reasonable price point.”

1969 Mustang Fastback Replacement Body Shell, Dynacorn Classic Bodies Inc.
“New Zeland has a 20-year rule on importing left-hand-drive vehicles. Anything newer than 20 years must be converted to right-hand drive. This shell would allow a virtually totaled Mustang to be restored better than new, including importing under the 20-year rule using the OEM chassis tags. Although, with some modification, the stripped shell would make a right-drive conversion a little easier.”

4000Xi Xenon, Hella Inc.
“From my rally and off-road experience, I’m familiar with the robustness and high-end performance of previous Hella Xenon HID-powered lights. This new model is very compact—especially considering that the usual external power pack (ballast) has been mounted internally, making installation simple. This product will equally suit off-road and open-road driving in New Zealand conditions.”

HDi Clamp, Hybrid-Developments International Pty. Ltd.
“This style of boost pipe clamp has always been reserved for high-dollar, high-boost applications where a simple cheap hose clamp cannot cope. This new product is simple in design, but pricing puts it within reach of the average tuner. The selection of anodized colors will also add options for a detailed engine bay.”

MasterShift Paddle Shifter for Tremec TKO, MasterShift
“This product gives a unique shifting option to users of Tremec manual transmissions, which are popular with many Ford and GM rodders. Australia’s recent offerings—the Holden Commodore VE (Pontiac G8) and BA Ford Falcon—are both fitted with the compatible T-56 transmission, which would be a good aftermarket fit for this product.”

Softline Direct Port System, Nitrous Express
“The use of nitrous oxide in vehicles is popular with the import tuner scene in NZ, although not legal for road use. Many tuners like to install it for show purposes and use it only on the occasional trip to the drag strip. This system, with flexible hoses for direct rail injection, makes installation and customization of the engine bay a simple option for the home tuner.”

CDX-H91OUI, Sony Electronics Inc.
“New Zealand has a prominent marine industry with very few reliable choices on the market in the marine audio electronics field. This head unit is a step up from the old model, with a special onboard backup for retaining settings after main battery disconnection for long periods of time. The iPod and mp3 player interface makes it a fully featured product that will suit this market.”

POV.1 Video Capture System, V.I.O
“Having seen one of these in action record a run up the infamous Pikes Peak International Hillclimb, I was very impressed with the lens quality, software, metering and general robustness of the product. This was truly tested when the car had a high-impact rollover.”

Paparazzi PZ-84, VentureCraft Inc.
“This is great use of solid-state recording media, simply looping the recording every 20 seconds. The unit has a pile of applications, protecting innocent parties from wrongful allegations surrounding a traffic incident.”

Lithium XS Power Battery, XS Power
“This is a very versatile product that would suit most race car applications. The lightweight construction and variety of user-friendly control options makes this battery a leader in its field.”

Portugal

“Portugal is a market with strong limitations due to restrictive tuning/aftermarket laws,” said Paulo Passarinho of Maxi Tuning Portugal. “Nevertheless, there is a strong base of enthusiasts. The tuning market in Portugal is largely influenced by Spanish and German tuning. Small SUVs are a growing market, but performance parts continue at the top of the list. SUV accessories continue to be a good business and is now growing due in particular to the Nissan Qashqai and the Suzuki SX4.”

Governmental laws are a major deterrent to the growth of the Portuguese specialty market. Passarinho characterized that as a major problem, noting that, “We have some problems also with the pressure of the authorities. It’s possible to do something only if the owner of the car wants to pay for a special project [a technical report obtained from an agency designating the part/application as legal, the process for which is costly and time consuming] and is able to spend eight to nine months just to have an answer. Nevertheless, performance parts are the ones less detected and the more interesting ones at the moment.”

The top modified vehicles in Portugal include the BMW 3 Series, Honda Civic, Opel Corsa, Seat Ibiza and VW Golf.

Awards From Paulo Passarinho,
Maxi Tuning, Portugal

25/8-inch Through-the-Dial LED Gauges, Auto Meter Products
“High-definition LED instruments are one of the ‘musts’ at the moment. Interior parts can be easily mounted by owners, and it’s one of the favorite accessories in Portugal.”

Mobile Suitcase Display, Auto Meter Products
“A very interesting concept to show all the types of displays available in one place.”

TiRM, Aicona Wheels
“Black matte is one of the favorite types of wheels in the Portuguese market. The interior personalized stripe could give an interesting advantage.”

G-Tech/Pro EGS, Tesla Electronics
“A familiar gauge with superior functions to the driver is interesting every time.”

Seat Cooling System, Seat Comfort Systems Inc.
“In a country with the kind of weather Portugal has, it’s always a better idea to cool the seats than to heat them.”

Tubing Bending Pliers, Dynapex Performance
“Very ingenious piece for the tuning shop that allows bending plastic tubes, for instance. Sometimes the simplest ideas can be the most interesting ones.”

ChaseCam Auto-Record, ChaseCam
“Portugal now has more than 20 track days. This camera is certain to be a good investment.”

Gentex Rear Camera Display Auto Dimming Mirror With OnStar, MITO Corporation
“We already have some cameras in the mirror, but a mirror with video is fully personalized.”

Powertach, Powertach
“Measure the power in binary with a cheap and reliable product. It’s clearly an opportunity to think about.”

LED Headlight Strobes, PlasmaGlow
“A strobe with LED gives more life to the optics.”

Russia

SUV sales are up 40% from the previous year in Russia as consumers seek to purchase these vehicles to better handle the poor road conditions and open roads (in contrast to the crowded conditions and narrow roads that are more small-car friendly in Western Europe).

“The most popular trends are the same as in America,” said Fedor Svinin of Tuning Inomarka. “We are interested in styling and performance products, glamorous wheels and custom interior as well as multimedia systems.”

Petr Likholitov of Tuning Auto said that the most popular upgrades for American cars are usually interior and performance brake systems, and he said that air brushing has become increasingly popular. The U.S. Embassy in St. Petersburg noted that some of the most popular U.S. products include lubricants, automotive chemicals and off-road accessories. The 5%, tariffs for most specialty products are not a big deterrent, and the average consumers modifying vehicles are DIYers, according to Kirill Kachnov of Maxi Tuning Russia.

Likholitov said that the growth of the customizing sector is new, but so is the very idea of owning a vehicle, which for many years was out of the reach of the majority of Russian citizens. New passenger vehicle sales topped 2 million for the first time in 2007. With only 190 vehicles for every 1,000 Russians (compared to 800 vehicles per 1,000 inhabitants in the United States), the market is far from saturated.

Laws and regulations regarding modification are vague. Likholitov said that it is a gray area, but the market is growing.

“There is no special law or rule for customization in Russia,” he said. “For this reason, people can generally do all kinds of customizing with their cars: change the exterior or interior, upgrade engines or install multimedia. They just have to be ready to pay to officials some ‘extra money.’”

Kachnov also noted that most customizing is unfettered by government restrictions on a practical basis, though what the actual laws are is vague.

“In terms of law, people are allowed to upgrade their cars unless it affects safety,” he said, “but you can’t find any kind of explanation anywhere about what does and doesn’t affect safety. People mostly just don’t care about that. Unofficially, paying $50 instead of bringing your car to the obligatory annual tech inspection is very common. I’m not even aware if the tuning parts installed in my car are legal or not.”

Fedor agreed. “In Russia, there are a certain regulations—especially for light systems and brake components. But the car customized with common sense generally keeps its ‘street legal’ status.”

The top modified vehilces in Russia include the BMW X5/X6; Honda Civic; Lada VA7-2108, -2110, -2112; Mitsubishi Lancer EVO; Porsche Cayenne; Subaru Impreza; Toyota Celica; and VW Golf.

Awards From Petr Likholitov,
Tuning Auto, Russia

Brembo Big Brake System for GM Musclecars, Classic Performance Products Inc.
“Russian owners of American cars are not happy about American brakes, so the first thing to do is to change them for something more reliable.”

Wideband Air Fuel Ratio Gauge, Prosport Gauges Inc.
“Almost all Russian customized Ladas have Prosport equipment, usually produced in China, so people will appreciate this new product from the famous brand.”

Sony NV-U94T, Sony Electronics Inc.
“The Russian market for mobile electronics is now growing, especially car audio and navigation systems, and Sony has been very popular in Russia for last 18 years.”

Hitch Critters, Hitch Critters/Frogworks
“We don’t have that kind of funny stuff in Russia that you have in America, but I think Russian drivers of SUVs and pickups will appreciate this product, and it’s a nice gift.”

MGP Caliper Covers, MGP Caliper Covers
“Good-looking and useful item. As far as I know, one Russian customer from St. Petersburg already bought it for his Mustang.”

Low Rider Universal Muffler, 3A Venture Ltd.
“Russian roads are not a piece of cake, so you need some special equipment that can stay in the tough conditions.”

5100 Series Ride-Height-Adjustable Shock, Bilstein Shock Absorbers
“The same reason as for previous muffler: bad roads.”

Sub-C Nitrous System, Nitrous Express
“Russian racers usually use small motors (two liters, four cylinders), and this product seems to be useful for them.”

Mobile Suitcase Display, Auto Meter Products
“Easy-to-use, good-looking instrument for vendors. Useful for those who have to travel to their customers, as you have to do in Russia.”

XM-ZR704, Sony Electronics Inc.
“Cheap and powerful device for tuned car and, of course, a very popular brand in Russia.”

Awards From Kirill Kachnov,
Maxi Tuning Russia, Russia

Powertach, Powertach
“On-board dyno is a great idea. I know of only one car with the same gauge stock—and it’s the Bugatti Veyron! Okay, maybe it’s not ultimately useful, but that’s not the crucial point. You can surprise your girlfriend or your friend by showing them how powerful you really are—that’s the point!”

DM-100 OBDII, PLX Devices Inc.
“Good thing. I heard a lot of guys complaining that they’re tired of watching 10 or 15 gauges on their front panels. Systems that let you see all the data using one screen already exist. But to show all that data on a gauge with a well-known round face is the optimal way, from my point of view.”

Big Bite Cross-Drilled Rotors, Stainless Steel Brakes Corp.
“Only $65 per item. Just show me where should I pay—I’m buying them!”

Kibo, GWG Wheels Inc.
“Wheels are the most visible element of exterior design, and guys here in Russia love big wheels. These are good, as they’re flashy and they’ve got some bling-bling, but aren’t over flashed and over-blinged as in many luxury models.”

License Plate Flipper, R-Blox Sound Control Inc.
“The ultimate highlight for the Russian market! Not only for tuners, but for every car owner. Our road police used to use portable radar for measuring speed, and they used to charge speeders right on the road. This year, the road police started to use camera systems with photos shooting your car and sending you a bill. So the License Plate Flipper should help Russian high-speed lovers like no other new products represented at SEMA! I’d like to become a dealer!”

Awards From Fedor Svinin,
Tuning Inomarka, Russia

Four-Channel Full-Version Vehicle Monitor System, Big Time Auto Parts/ Austin International
“This system can help the owners of big SUVs. Also can be very useful for security specialists.”

ChaseCam Auto-Record, ChaseCam
“Easy-to-use compact camera set for track-day enthusiasts. We expect amateur motorsports to develop significantly in Russia in the next years.”

’33 Custom Hot Rod, Factory Five Racing
“The amazing style of this hot rod is combined with the famous Factory Five Racing build quality. The only downside is Russian regulations. It takes a lot of time and energy to officially register a kit car here.”

33-2413 2009 Nissan GT-R V6-3.8L, K&N Engineering Inc.
“Easy-to-fit air filter system by a well-known specialist. Now the GT-R gets recognition in Russia also.”

WeatherTech Ford F150 No-Drill MudFlap, MacNeil Automotive Products Ltd.
“The WeatherTech brand is incredibly strong in the United States. In Russia, we are still waiting for a company with this type of image and products.”

ScratchX 2.0, Meguiar’s Inc.
“Let’s hope that Meguiar’s Inc. will finally decide to conquer the Russian market with its excellent line of car-care products. By now, Turtle Wax has no competitors here at all.”

Chrysler SRT/HEMI Nitrous System, Nitrous Express
“The owners of SRT models are famous everywhere in the world for their passion for power and speed. The Nitrous Express system is a very good answer for their needs.”

375/20ZR21 XL (103Y) PZero Nero, Pirelli Tire
“Size matters when it refers to the tires for exotic cars. I hope that Pirelli will pay more attention to this niche segment of the tire market in Russia. It’s time to move it from the ‘gray imports’ zone.”

Twin Carbon-Fiber Hood 60mm Gauge Pods EVO X RX-8 350Z, Three-In-One
“Nice-looking accessory for popular Japanese sport cars. The owners will like it.”

2008 Dodge Challenger High-Output Supercharger System, Vortech/Paxton
“The perfect solution for Challenger enthusiasts from a well-respected supercharger specialist. But how about even more horsepower for this engine?”

South Africa

Government laws regarding specialty-equipment products are not a problem in South Africa, according to the journalists serving as judges from that country. South Africa’s legislation demands only that a vehicle be roadworthy, and there are effectively no limits on customization. Another difference from many markets is that off-road accessories are functional rather than merely for show.

“Our magazine’s focus is on overlanding [off-roading] and motoring adventure,” said Jannie Herbst of Leisure Wheels, “and what is interesting in our market is that our readers, who accessorize or customize their vehicles, actually use them to do overlanding or go on adventures with. In other words, these accessories are not only for show but mostly serve a practical purpose in the middle of the Maluti Mountains in Lesotho, on the Kgalagadi Pans in Botswana or in the Namib Desert in Namibia. Our target market focuses more on safari and overlanding-style accessories and modifications. This includes protective and stylized aftermarket products, such as bull bars; recovery products, such as winches; performance products, such as engine enhancements, and traction products, such as specialty off-road tires and suspension.”

Mike Monk of Car magazine said that diversity and the sheer number of vehicles on South Africa’s roads are unique features of that market.

“The ratio of the number of vehicles versus the size of the market does not make any viable sense on paper,” Monk said, “but the market has somehow survived like this for many years and continues to expand. However, stricter credit laws and the current global financial crisis have brought about a sharp decline in sales, so South Africa is getting more and more contestants competing in a shrinking market. The wave of Chinese vehicles that entered the market during the last year has brought its own problems. A couple of brands have already changed ownership, merged and/or withdrawn from the market, damaging consumer confidence. With South African motorists inexplicably expecting to be served by hugely expensive dealerships, economies of scale are becoming an increasing factor.”

Angus Thompson of Top Car brought up another unique feature of the South African market: the growing middle class. Thompson said, “The middle class in South Africa, especially the black middle class, experienced rapid growth in the last few years, which means that the sales of cars and aftermarket automotive products have increased exponentially.”

He also said that car and automotive product prices as well as financing are a lot higher in South Africa than in the United States. He said that most cars are European, Japanese or Korean brands, while American brands, such as Jeep, Dodge and Cadillac sell in smaller numbers in South Africa.

Minesh Bhagaloo of The Star newspaper also emphasized this aspect of the market.

“We don’t have the range of American cars you do,” he explained. “Our market is probably more German and Japanese. Your aftermarket offerings need to factor this in. See www.naamsa.co.za for our monthly car sales figures.”

Thompson added that the Ford and GM products South Africa receives are mainly Euro-spec models. However, there is a large demand for off-road trucks and SUVs due to the country’s large open spaces. While the economic crisis has quelled that demand to a degree, Thompson said that diesel-powered vehicles are still preferred over gasoline variants. Thompson taps the off-road market as a growth niche.

“In my opinion the light-truck market is bigger than the modifying of smaller four-cylinder cars for performance,” he said. “In South Africa, young guys with relatively little disposable income form the majority of those modifying their cars. On the SUV and off-road side of things, it’s the older people with money who are buying the products that will enable them to do overlanding or camping in the bush. This is also growing in popularity as more and more South Africans use their 4x4s to explore not only their own country, but also the rest of Africa.”

The modifications to light trucks are also model specific and relate to the applications in which they will be used, he said. Thus, a model such as the Nissan 1400 pickup may be popular with drag racing, using a variety of different powertrains that range from turbo four-cylinders to small-block V8s, while other pickups, such as the Ford Ranger, Nissan Navara and Mitsubishi Trition might be modified for aesthetics and off-road applications, such as high-lift suspensions and bigger wheels. Vehicles, such as the Toyota Land Cruiser pickup and Hilux are often fitted with high-lift suspensions, stronger shocks, bull bars and winches for extreme off-roading, Thompson said, adding that the burgeoning market for off-road aftermarket products in South Africa will be of interest to both customers and tuners, particularly in terms of turbo tuning, detailing and aftermarket modifications. On the other hand, Bhagaloo said that functionality is the primary concern in his view.

“Pickups—we call them bakkies—are bought primarily as workhorses,” he said, “so practicality is key. Only a small percentage modify, especially all out, probably because it’s expensive and maybe it’s easier to modify their daily cars. Most do the audio bit and the rims, but not many go further. SUVs are similar—rims and audio but not much more. The SUV market is also very conscious of warranties, etc.”

The journalists all concurred that government regulations are not a significant barrier.

“The only legal restrictions we have pertain to the amount of noise certain aftermarket exhausts and mufflers make as well as the degree of window tinting,” Thompson said, “but this is seldom enforced by the authorities. There are also restrictions on left-hand-drive imports into South Africa.”

Bhagaloo said that the problem is more over manufacturers’ warranties rather than laws.

“In our market, most new cars come with three-year/100,000-km warranties, with maintenance or service plans over and above,” he said. “It’s too costly to fix an engine or gearbox without these plans. Manufacturers get grumpy when you go aftermarket. Hence, mods are more popular in smaller, cheaper, older cars.”

The size of the market in South Africa is smaller both physically and economically compared to the United States.

“There’s lots of focus on aftermarket accessories here,” noted Bhagaloo, “but affordability—and, to an extent, manufacturer endorsement—is critical.”

The top modified vehicles in South Africa include the BMW 3 Series; Honda Civic; Nissan 350Z; and VW CitiGolf, Golf Mk1 (called the Rabbit in the United States.) and GTi (Mk4 and Mk5). In light trucks, the list includes the Land Rover Defender; Mitsubishi Pajero; Nissan 1400 Pickup and Navara; and Toyota Hilux and Land Cruiser (Prado, 70 and 200 Series).

Awards From Jannie Herbst,
Leisure Wheels, South Africa

Competition Snatch Block 9000, ARB 4X4 Accessories
“This product stood out as an innovative solution for extracting a vehicle from a tricky off-road situation using a winch. It’s a simple but high-quality design. The fact that one can winch at an angle is a huge plus in difficult off-road conditions.”

Autonet Mobil, Autonet Mobil
“Most of our magazine’s readers are high-earning professionals who often need to keep in touch with their offices and businesses via e-mail and the Internet while on the move, be that on a two-week overlanding trip or a weekend away in the mountains. The Autonet system will make that possible.”

Cargo Sock, Cargo Sock
“This product makes it possible for SUV owners to load dirty cargo into their luxurious and smart SUVs without leaving a mark or dirt behind. No marks and no dirt in SUVs are always good things in our books.”

Dynaplug 2, Dynaplug
“This is an essential tool for overlanding through southern Africa. It’s not necessarily a question of whether your vehicle will pick up a puncture, but rather when it will pick one up. This tool may not be entirely unique, but the self-vulcanizing cords that are stored in the handle, as well as the built-in flashlight, get our vote.”

Inflaflat, Inflaflat
“Sometimes the simplest innovation is also the best, and Inflaflat is just such as product. It’s ideal to take along on overlanding trips to areas where electricity (for a tire pump) and civilization (for help) are scarce.”

Rescue Tape, Rescue Tape
“There’s an old saying that you should always have a roll of thick copper wire handy to fix anything with when overlanding through Africa. That saying will now have to be changed to include Rescue Tape. It seems to be the perfect mending tool for bush repairs.”

Swing Case, Undercover
“South African pickup drivers mostly use their pickups to transport stuff, so the Swing Case solves the age-old problem of items shifting around in the load bed, damaging the pickup’s body. It’s also the perfect toolbox for overlanding. All the tools are neatly stowed but easily accessible.”

Rayzer RS, Visualeyes AB
“We do a lot of long-distance driving and a lot of driving at night. The number of pedestrian fatalities, especially in rural areas, is reaching alarming levels. This innovative lighting system illuminates the road ahead so well that, if fitted to all cars driving at night, it might have a huge impact on those fatalities.”

Link Strap, Zuru Innovative Solutions
“Overlanding through Africa, we got accustomed to using cable ties, ropes and elastic bands to hold loads down. But the innovative Link Strap is the way of the future. And it looks as if the future is looking much easier and more user-friendly than cable ties, ropes and elastic bands!”

Awards From Mike Monk,
Car Magazine, South Africa

PathFindIR, FLIR Systems Inc.
“Wide open spaces, poor lighting, people and animals wandering in the dark on roads without sidewalks, debris left after tire blowouts and accidents—all strong reasons for benefiting from advanced warning.”

Four-Channel Vehicle Monitor System, Big Time Auto Parts/Austin International
“Road transport is South Africa’s supply lifeline, and the accident rate is horrific—especially with ‘verge driving’ (driving on the road shoulder) allowed. This product is an excellent see-all system.”

Max Energy Power Programmer, Hypertech Inc.
“South Africans generally cover high annual mileages, and with the heavy cost of fuel, any product that has an ongoing positive effect on economy has to be worthy of consideration.”

Glare Reducer, Glare Reducer
“A simple device, but with the amount of high-glare and UV-rich African sun, it would have a calming effect on in-car comfort.”

BrakeView, Brake View
“Brake condition is often overlooked because you can’t see them and get used their general wear and tear until it is possibly too late. This device is brilliant, because the driver can actually see what condition the brakes are in without having to don overalls and get dirty.”

OK Spark Spark Plug Sensor, OK Spark
“Helps simplify tune-ups and servicing for both workshops and any individual willing and able to carry out DIY maintenance.”

Tubing Bending Pliers, Dynaplex Performance
“You just gotta have one!”

Lithium XS Power Battery, XS Power Battery
“Has many practical applications for anyone with an outdoors lifestyle.”

Titanium Turbo Heat Shield, Design Engineering Inc.
“Turbocharged vehicles are very popular, and given South Africa’s extremes of temperature and altitude plus some poor fuel quality, looking after the turbo is vital for both performance and longevity.”

Awards From Angus Thompson,
Top Car South Africa, South Africa

Four-Channel Full-Version Vehicle Monitor System, Big Time Auto Parts/Austin International
“This product will be of interest to overlanders as well as owners of camper vans and caravans when towing.”

BrakeView, BrakeView
“This will be a very useful tool for owners, fleet mechanics, tuning shops and racing teams to monitor the wear and tear on brake discs of specific vehicles.”

Tubing Bending Pliers, Dynapex Performance
“This would be the first product of this type in South Africa and will be of great use to mechanics and tuners.”

HDi Clamp, Hybrid-Development International Pty.
“These clamps are extremely good quality and will be of interest to turbo specialists and most aftermarket tuners.”

OK Spark Spark Plug Sensor, OK Spark
“Anyone who has ever worked on a vehicle will appreciate how useful this tool is. This will have global appeal, not just in South Africa.”

Powertach, Powertach
“There is a need for affordable ‘on-board dyno’ systems among motoring enthusiasts and mechanics in South Africa, as much of the larger systems are getting more and more expensive to import with our exchange rate.”

Speed Armor, Speed Armor
“This product has broad appeal not only in the protection of cars and off-road vehicles but various marine and bicycling applications. There is a gap in the South African market for alternatives to the protection of a vehicle without the use of clear film.”

KCA316 Whiteline Anti Lift Caster Kit VW Golf MK5 GTi, Whiteline Automotive
“The Golf Mk5 GTi is one of the most popular hot hatches in the South African market and is sure to appeal to both owners and racers.”

Lithium XS Power Battery, XS Power
“There will be a wide variety of interest in this product, not only from car, motorcycle or marine applications in South Africa, but for campers and overlanders in the bush in need of power for small air pumps, lights, chargers etc.”

Titanium Turbo Heat Shield, Design Engineering Inc.
“The t3 is one of the more popular turbochargers used in aftermarket tuning in South Africa, and this heat shield will prevent much of the extra cladding and heat buildup.”

Awards From Minesh Bhagaloo,
The Star Newspaper, South Africa

Passport 9500ix, Beltronics Radar Detectors
“Radar detection is of major interest to local motorists, and a device that actually works all the time will be well-received.”

ChaseCam HD, ChaseCam
“Motorsport has a keen following. This could work well, and I also see broadcasters using it.”

DashDAQ+, Drew Technologies Inc.
“The sheer combined functionality of the unit makes it a winner. I’m sure the take-up, if affordable, would be promising.”

Tubing Bending Pliers, Dynapex Performance
“Speaks for itself. A winner in any workshop.”

GPS Pulse Generator, Nordskog Instruments
“Also very innovative. A new boundary in accuracy will be welcomed.”

OK Spark Spark Plug Sensor, OK Spark
“Like the tube bending pliers, will be welcomed in any workshop.”

DM-100 OBDII, PLX Devices Inc.
“Real-time sensor data, reset engine trouble codes, data logging and playback—another innovative piece of engineering that a workshop or vehicle owner could use.”

Powerfire, Professional Products
“The modifiers would love this. Also, we have various climates and altitudes in South Africa, and this could help with travelling between these areas and retuning. OEMs should grab this and make it standard.”

Turbonetics TNX-122, Turbonetics
“Had to choose something for the real performance fanatic, and there are a fair amount of those here. They would love this.”

Tow Hitch, Bosal-Oris/Bosal Performance
“I’ve seen the electric ones on expensive SUVs, but it seems like the man in the street could afford this one, and it does the same as the electronic one, i.e. folds away for probably half the cost. Ugly tow bars are a problem with locals; they’d love to be able to retract manually out of sight. Can’t see it not doing well.”

South Korea

Most South Korean consumers typically prefer to purchase sedans, according In-Sang Hwang of BBC TopGear, though he noted that Korean people recently have begun to have an interest in SUVs and crossover vehicles. While customizing doesn’t have a long tradition in Korea and Koreans tend to use their cars in their original condition, Hwang said that, young consumers who have the buying power do want to tune their cars like U.S. consumers.

Hwang noted that the SUV market is increasing in that country, and the Korea Automobile Manufacturers Association said that the SUV market in Korea included about 1,800 units in 2007.

“Along with the growing SUV market in Korea, specialty-equipment parts are also increasing,” Hwang said. “The younger generation wants to be different from others, and that’s a major difference between the older and younger generations. Because of that, one out of three SUVs is customized or modified these days. We also have a light-truck race sponsored by Nexen, the tire manufacturer. The truck race series started in 2006. Due to the recent soaring of oil prices, everybody said that the light-truck market will decrease. But I believe that the truck and SUV market in Korea will be active in the future as well.”

According to Hwang, while the government is considering easing restrictions on modifications, many are currently prohibited, including modification of the steering wheel, HID, hard-core lowered suspension and steel guards. Enthusiasts interested in engine upgrades, such as adding a turbocharger or supercharger, must obtain government approval, but body styling and wheels are freely allowed, Hwang said.

The top modified vehicles in South Korea include the Hyundai Genesis Coupe and the Oullim Spirra GT.

Awards From In-Sang Hwang,
BBC TopGear, South Korea

BedRug Mat, BedRug by Wise
“Can protect items in the bed, and very easy to wash.”

DoorPal Ding Prevention System, DoorPal Ding Prevention System
“A useful item in Korea. Department stores’ parking staffs always worry about their VIP customers. They always want to protect VIPs luxury cars from door-to-door clashes.”

ChaseCam HD, ChaseCam
“I need a product like this item as a journalist. This item is very useful to do test drives.”

Black Magic Bullet Wheel Polishing Tool, Pennzoil/Quaker State/Black Magic/Auto Expressions
“If you feel inconvenienced washing your wheels, this item will be very helpful. This is new way to wash your wheels.”

Evolution CTS, Edge Products
“Along with increasing tune-ups, owners of tuned cars want to use multiple gauges and see mpg in real time.”

OT-2, Innovate Motorsports
“Easy to connect iPod. It’s a really unique feature.”

Hitch Critters, Hitch Critters/Frogworks
“It is fun. Above all, ‘Don’t shoot deer’ can make Korean consumers happy.”

Hydraulic Handbrake, Ksport Suspension
“Recently, Hyundai Motors launched the Genesis Coupe, the first rear-wheel-drive sports coupe in Korea. Therefore, we need more performance items for drift and drag racing.”

RideStyler, Burkson Technologies
“This will do well in the Korean market. Most consumers worry about changing their wheels. This product can help see the matching feature in advance. I hope this new product from SEMA will be a success in the Korean market.”

Spain

The economic crisis and strict government laws are putting a damper on the Spanish specialty-equipment market.

“At this moment, the crisis has arrived in Spain and is reflected in the customizing market,” said Ramon Castella of Maxi Tuning Spain. “Consumers do not have as much money, and Spanish laws are very tight. Everything can be customized, but we must resort first to engineering studies [approval by the technical authorities].”

Castella said that wheels, suspension, body kits, ICE, interior and taillights were among the most common upgrades in Spain. As in the rest of Europe, he said, the light-truck market is small, representing only about 10 % of the market.

The top modified vehicles in Spain include the BMW 3 Series; Honda Civic; Hyundai Coupe; Peugeot 206; Seat Ibiza; Toyota Celica; and VW Golf.

Awards From Ramon Castella,
Maxi Tuning Spain, Spain

Ecometer, Auto Meter Products
“Curious gadget for the new ecological trend.”

Nostalgic Neon Clock, Cornhusker Sign & Manufacturing Corp.
“Ideal for the Spanish market; need the ‘old’ and original USA items.”

Evolution CTS, Edge Products
“The import style is a success in Spain, and this digital gauge is ideal for our cars.”

Spider, GH Wheels Inc.
“Despite the fact that it was created for the Ferrari Spider, it is an excellent idea for Spanish and Euro cars.”

Truck Antlers, Hitch Critters/Frogworks
“Original and crazy, the same with Spanish tuning.”

ARS, Maxima
“The new generation cars have an ARS inside; 100% utility.”

Hot Shine Tire Gel Kit, Meguiar’s Inc.
“We use it daily with our shoes, and now we apply it to our tires.”

Hydrogen Hybrid Convention Kit, Miami Hydro Tech
“Environmental concerns make this product welcome in our land.”

Nitro-charger, Rubicon Express
“A very practical accessory for SUVs, trucks and 4x4s.”

Twin Carbon-Fiber Hood 60mm Gauge Pods EVO X RX8-350Z, Three-In-One
“These Japanese models are hitting the Spanish market, and this accessory is ideal for our customizing.”

Sweden

“Swedish people like station wagons and American pickups,” said Fredrik Sjoqvist of Bilsport magazine. “The most-sold new car is the Volvo V70, but for car enthusiasts, German cars are probably the most common.”

Sjoqvist said that Sweden has a large number of older American cars, as does the rest of Scandanavia, and he noted that Swedes perform many of their upgrades themselves “That’s because of the high taxes in Sweden,” he said, “especially if you restore an older car.”

Swedish laws are quite strict regarding customization, but Sjoqvist said that most smaller modifications can be done without any problems.

The top modified vehicles in Sweden include Audis, Saabs, BMWs, Volvos and Volkswagens.

Awards From Fredrik Sjoqvist,
Bilsport Magazine, Sweden

Isis InTouch Control Module; Isis by Littelfuse
“Touch screens are very popular in a lot of different items. Isis makes it possible even for the car.”

Ecometer, Auto Meter Products
“Fuel consumption gets more and more important.”

Lithium XS Power Battery, XS Power
“Weight and power are important to performance.”

AT&T Cruisecast, AT&T
“Makes it possible to watch TV for the kids in the car.”

1969 Mustang Fastback Replacement Body Shell, Dynacorn Classic Bodies Inc.
“With a new body, instead of rust repair, the enthusiast can make better cars.”

Tiger Cage, Air Ride Technologies Inc.
“A cage that’s easily assembled in a lot of cars.”

Hollow Stem Titanium Intake Valves, Manley Performance Products
“Weight and strength are important.”

Powerjection III, Professional Products
“Compact and easily mounted.”

ChaseCam Auto-Record, ChaseCam
“Recording your drive is popular, and this makes it easier.”

Shockwave v3.5, AirRide Technologies Inc.
“Air ride with an interesting level of management.”

United Arab Emirates

Zlatko Mulabegovic of Top Performance magazine said that a unique characteristic of the specialty-equipment market in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is its combination of passion and good buying power. He said that enthusiasts there can go to “crazy extents.” Mulabegovic sees the UAE market as similar to the one in the United States but significantly smaller. It is also heavily influenced by aftermarket trends in the United States, he said, and he estimates that at least 25% of the customized vehicles in the UAE are SUVs or light pickups. He is optimistic about the future, noting that the sales figure for trucks should grow in the coming years.

The top modified vehicles in the United Arab Emirates include the Honda Civic; Mitsubishi EVO; Ford Mustang; and Nissan 350Z and Patrol.

Awards From Zlatko Mulabegovic,
Top Performance Magazine, United Arab Emirates

Competition Snatch Block 9000, ARB 4X4 Accessories
“Winches sell extremely well in our region, where off-roading is traditionally very popular and the terrains are tough.”

Universal Radiator/Fan Combo, Flex-a-lite Consolidated
“Probably the best product you can buy for the kind of climate we have in the Middle East.”

American Muscle Gauge Series, Auto Meter Products
“A must for anyone building or restoring a classic musclecar.”

Airaid Intake System Box, Airaid Filter Co.
“Great solution to keep underhood heat away while providing proper filtering.”

Pivot Jack, Mittler Bros. Machine & Tool
“Any enthusiasts needs one in his garage. Awesome finish too!”

Isis InTouch Control Module, Isis by Littelfuse
“Promises to simplify your installation and reduce 50% of your harness wiring. Much needed for both street and track preparation.”

Eibach Multi Pro R2, Eibach Springs Inc.
“A great application for those racing Porsche cars, and we have the highest number of Porsche vehicles per capita in the whole world.”

Mitsubishi Evo X Z-rated Brake Upgrade Kit, Performance Friction Brakes
“EVO is the most popular tuning platform in the Middle East and many are taking to the track. The stock brakes need to be upgraded
for competition.”

Z-Chip, Zeitronix
“Promises DIY boost control and great power gains with both stock and modified engines.”

Competition Series Instruments, Auto Meter
“A must have for any race car.”

350Z Mega Ram Intake, Injen
“Great design for one of the most popular tuner cars in our region.”

United Kingdom

“The United Kingdom has a very loyal modifying scene, with plenty of diverse styles and trends—much like the United States,” said Mark Guest of Max Power. “Its biggest unique factor is probably that the majority of cars, whether show or street, are privately owned and are constantly changed and updated. The involvement of sponsors is less in the United Kingdom, meaning that cost and budgets become increasingly important. This can lead to some less-extreme projects on a whole but does bring a reality to the scene. Another large contributing factor to the United Kingdom’s scene is the condition of the roads and the constant addition of speed humps, making extremely low cars an option only to the hardcore. Most U.K. locations don’t have the luxury of long, wide freeways, and with the country being so compact, the big tuned engines aren’t the majority when it comes to street cars. However the tuning side of the industry has grown in importance with increasing availability of big-power Japanese cars.”

Modifying is firmly embedded in the U.K. culture, Guest said, and the types of modifications reached extremes a few years ago, including the removal of rear lights and license plates.

“That led to a much harsher line of policing, with additional laws being put in place,” he said. “These have mainly affected people’s behavior rather than changed modding as such. However, they have led to a reduction in extreme styling in everyday cars and led to more tuning-based mods, as these are less likely to get you a fine and more likely to pass the standard MOT test [the United Kingdom’s annual test to ensure that a car is roadworthy].”

The top modified vehicles in the United Kingdom include the Honda Civic; Nissan 350Z and Skyline; Renault Clio; Subaru Impreza; Vauxhall Corsa; and VW Golf.

Awards From Phil McNamara,
Car UK, United Kingdom

TiRM, Aicona Wheels
“Chrome finishes are becoming too familiar. This matte-black wheel is a real stealth bomber, and with that red stripe, it would look great on VW’s forthcoming Golf GTi.”

Competition/Plus 2 Shifter, B&M Racing & Performance Products
“Okay, I know it should have a pistol grip, but the Challenger is definitely the most popular car of SEMA 2008, and this elegant retro unit should improve the shift action.”

Beltronics Pro GX65, Beltronics Radar Detectors
“Knowing how often my Car staffers get pulled over for speeding in the United States, can we have a long-term loan of this must-have gadget?”

ChaseCam Auto-Record, ChaseCam
“Records an entire weekend of track days. Very clear picture. So useful for improving your technique.”

Eight-Way Adjustable Billet Streetrod Shocks, Edelbrock Corp./Russell Performance
“A few handsome Edelbrock items caught my eye (including the LS2 engine manifold, although how much extra horsepower do you need from that engine?), but I went for these adjustable shocks, which look like a bargain at $280.”

OT-2, Innovate Motorsports
“How cool, being able to monitor engine output and fuel economy on your iPhone.”

Luxe Mats by Lloyd-Hand Finished Elegance, Lloyd Mats
“Really nice design with clear branding, and they look very high quality.”

Mitsubishi Evo X Z-Rated Brake Upgrade Kit, Performance Friction
“Everyone knows Brembo et al, so it’s nice to see an unfamiliar name making handsome brakes that will beef up the first thing to fail during track days!”

The CatClamp, The CatClamp
“Thefts of catalytic converters are a growing problem in the United Kingdom, and this is the first protective measure I’ve ever seen.”

Whiteline Blackbox–Electronic Handling Bias Modifier Nissan 350Z, Whitline Automotive
“Sounds perfect. It will allow 350Z buyers a bit more freedom to drive hard while still keeping the electronic safety net in place. Sounds like the Ferrari Scuderia’s tunable traction control.”

Awards From Mark Guest,
Max Power, United Kingdom

ACI PaintFilm, Applied Coatings International LLC
“ACI’s vinyl paint system offered flexibility and simplicity. As already mentioned, U.K. cars constantly change, and this seems like a system that would allow our guys to easily transform the cars without expensive paint jobs. Vinyl wraps are becoming increasingly popular due to their flexible application and the fact that they are far less of a commitment. ACI appears to offer an actual paint finish, and it was this factor that helped me chose them in my 10.”

ChaseCam Auto-Record, ChaseCam
“A useful technology, and it appeared to offer more than just gimmick appeal. I saw this product as able to deliver quality race sequences (very appropriate to the YouTube culture), but for the United Kingdom, I felt it could offer benefits to insurance claims if an incident happened to be recorded. Insurance is a real sticking point in the United Kingdom, and although the ChaseCam wasn’t for this purpose, I do see it as having the potential.”

SP1987P 2008 Nissan 350Z Air Intake With MagaRam Technology and Air Fusion, Injen Technology
“A simple choice. The build quality alone was enough to recognize this as a product that would be well received, let alone the fact it was for the 350Z, which is becoming increasingly more popular by the day.”

G3 Gauges, Innovate Motorsports
“With a huge selection of gauges and dials already available, my justification for picking Innovate Motorsports ones was simple. The quality build and the smooth needle motion made them feel like a fresh luxurious product that would sit well within any interior. They actually made me want to fit them just for the sake of it.”

Meguiar’s One Step Headlight Restoration Kit, Meguiar’s Inc.
“On a less technical note, the Meguiar’s headlight restorer was actually a product close to my heart. With no real tasteful option to replace my own cars lamps, I am left with probably having to purchase expensive OEM versions if I am to be rid of weathered yellow lenses. This is a dilemma many U.K. cars suffer from, and if this restoration kit does what it says on the tin, then I feel that Meguiar’s must be onto a winner. In a highly competitive market, I felt that this product stood out as more than just a cleaning product.”

Softline Direct Port System, Nitrous Express
“Nitrous hit dizzy heights back in 2001 but has faded in popularity over the years due to cost of refills and installation. With a hunch that the United Kingdom could see a reemergence in 2009 for nitrous, the NEX system’s simplicity in fitting instantly made it feel more accessible. A quick modification is almost as important as a budget-friendly one. This is certainly a product Max Power would love to demonstrate fitting.”

DashCommand, Palmer Performance Engineering Inc.
“Palmer Performance’s touch-screen software is not only one of the coolest pieces of technology, but it also offers a range of uses. The U.K. scene loves gadgets, but when it comes with a real usefulness, it becomes a must-have. Ingenious and beneficial to all, it had to get my vote.”

Samco Xtra-Flex, Samco Sport
“Samco is well-established and known throughout the U.K. scene, and I was truly amazed at how you could move this type of product forward. It instantly felt that Samco had identified a common problem with hoses—flexibility. Engine bays are so tight these days that having extra bend when fitting will provide easier fitting and greater application.”

Chrome & Powder Coated T304 SS Exhaust Tips, Sebring Tuning
“Sebring’s powder-coated tail pipes offer a really nice simple option to modifiers. To be able to simply color code your exhaust to your new paint scheme is highly desirable. This may not be a revolutionary idea, but the quality of the build impressed me enough to include them in my selections.”

Sony NV-U94T, Sony Electronics Inc.
“Lastly was the Sony head unit. With increasing technology and often needless features being added to the growing number of head units, I felt that Sony had focused on the useful. This meant quality in performance wasn’t compromised. The satellite navigation map was dynamic and easy to follow. The screen was crystal clear, and the option of being able to upload photographs and play a slideshow gave this unit a unique selling point. More than a head unit and more than just sat nav, this needs to hit the United Kingdom, as cruisers and showgoers will lap up the photography option.”

Venezuela

Henry Pierini of Autozulia magazine talked about a new law implemented in 2008 in Venezuela that severely limits the vehicles sold in that market. He said that, as of 2008, vehicle importers and auto part manufacturers—among other sectors—must obtain import licenses, a new requirement that adds to the stringent limitations affecting production.

“This limits imports to passenger vehicles with engines up to 3,000 cc and gives brands an authorization covering only 20%–30% of their imported goods sales,” he said, noting that this is increasing the trend for consumers to hold onto their vehicles longer. “The impact of recent government decisions points to the disappearance of some brands, a drastic reduction in model offerings, increasing costs of new vehicles and revaluation of late-model used vehicles with engines of more than three liters.”

Pierini explained that the new policies have reduced the supply of cars on the market, causing what is left to be sold at very high prices.

“In Venezuela, personalizing the look of a vehicle is popular due to the importance that consumers assign to improving the look of their cars, especially since people hold on to them for many years,” he said. “I think that most people are interested in adding accessories that enhance comfort—especially the kind of accessories that can be found only on very luxurious vehicles and are not available to everyone due to economic factors. Tuning provides the chance to show off their cars and stand out.”

Venezuelans take great pride in their vehicles and are eager to differentiate them from their neighbor’s ride, Pierini said.

“For many Venezuelans, the car represents status,” he explained. “The choice of purchase is closely related to a psychological phenomenon. The choice of buying a car in Venezuela is often directly influenced by social pressure. It is no secret that ‘see and be seen’ is almost the daily bread among Venezuelans.”

Pickups and SUVs account for about 40% of the market, according to Pierini. He noted that customization of these vehicles is currently based primarily on accessories, such as rims, caps and covers for pickup beds as well as HID lights. But the most common customizations are purchases of sound systems.

Regarding the legal environment, Pierini explained that there are regulations in Venezuela on how a car should look, especially when it comes to lights.

“For instance, tail- or brakelights should be red; turn lights should be yellow, and back lights should be white,” he said. “Cars must also have their license plates in a visible place, both in front and in back of the vehicle. Among other things, the use of exhaust resonators that generate too much noise is penalized. Beyond these basic regulations, there are tuning fans who just make subtle changes to their cars and use them for daily commuting. There are also people who perform more extreme tuning at a competitive level, and their cars are displayed in shows. This type of professional competition car is regulated by the CNT, a local standard-setting body.”

The top modified cars in Venezuela include the Chevrolet Aveo and Hyundai Shark. In the light-truck category, the list includes the Ford F-150, Mitsubishi Lancer and Toyota Corolla.

Awards From Henry Pierini,
Revista Autozulia Internacional, Venezuela

Gentex Rear Camera Display Auto Dimming Mirror with OnStar, MITO Corporation
“I think it’s a very good product because it increases safety when backing up. It’s great that it also integrates a driver-assistance system, such as the world-renowned OnStar.”

Toyota Corolla Factory-Look
Multi-Media Navigation System, Rosen Entertainment Systems
“A great accessory to enhance entertainment in the car, which also serves to control additional features, such as music. It is also a guide to get oriented while traveling.”

BedTred, BedRug by Wise
“It is an excellent cover to protect the cargo area of pickups. I think it also makes the vehicle look good.”

Sportsman Sport Recliners, Procar Seating by Scat
“A very convenient accessory for giving a personal touch to sports cars. It provides passengers with an ergonomic seat, similar to competition cars.”

Swing Case, Undercover
“This case, which folds to the structure of the van, is ideal for storing objects. It is easily accessible, and it has an incredibly aesthetic look in addition to saving space.”

Comp Stick Kit, B&M Racing Performance Products
“A central console to improve storage capacity for all those small objects. It is also consistent with the internal look of the car.”

Grant Revolution Airbag Steering Wheel, Grant Products
“In addition to the protection provided by an airbag, this product allows you to customize the steering wheel. It is an accessory that gives vehicles that don’t incorporate this system the ability to add one.”

OT-2, Innovate Motorsports
“This scanner or OBD-II reader reads the codes from the vehicle’s computer to show whether sensors are failing and, if so, which ones and how many. It’s great that it is compatible with new technologies, such as the iPhone.”

Paparazzi PZ-84, VenturCraft Inc.
“This is a kind of black box that seems great to me, particularly in countries such as Venezuela, where traffic accidents are so common. This accessory helps to provide an accurate record of events, and it’s very useful in case of lawsuits or for insurance companies.”

M-300 TE (Tuner Edition), PLX Devices
“This meters the air/fuel mixture and is ideal for monitoring that the mixture is within the established parameters to ensure adequate fuel-consumption performance.”