Ford Motor Company will be flexing its muscles in more ways than one at the 40th Annual Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) show, which begins today in Las Vegas.
More than 2,000 specialty-equipment and new-vehicle manufacturers will unveil new customization trends and technology at the show, which runs through Nov. 3.
Not only does Ford build two of the most accessorized vehicles in the country -- the F-150 pickup and the Mustang -- but the company is also growing stronger as a player in the $34 billion specialty automotive business.
'Ford's Vehicle Personalization business is growing faster than the aftermarket or other automakers,' said Christine Feuell, manager, Ford Vehicle Personalization and Accessories. 'This year alone, we've seen growth that's five times more than the aftermarket while some of our competitors are seeing declines.'
Taking center stage at Ford's SEMA display will be a customized Ford F-150 FX2 Sport pickup, a Ford Mustang convertible and a new 2007 Ford Edge. All of the vehicles are outfitted with components from the Genuine Parts catalogs, Ford Licensed Accessories and the Ford Racing Performance Parts (FRPP) catalog.
'The lines between custom vehicles from the factory and the aftermarket are blurring as customers demand more choice,' said Feuell. 'We believe we are one of the leaders of this trend.'
The F-150 FX2 Sport is the product of collaboration between Ford Genuine Parts and FRPP. The FX2 sits on a lowered suspension and sports prototype GFA 20-inch sport wheels, a custom hood scoop and side stripes. A Sport Liner bed liner hides beneath a lockable hard tonneau.
The interior features a headrest DVD entertainment system, Mobile-Ease hands-free cell phone system, and remote start. The 5.4-liter V-8 engine sports a Ford Racing supercharger, headers and sided exhausts with chrome tips.
'Truck owners are some of the biggest customizers,' said Feuell. 'Seventy percent of them personalize their vehicles within a year of purchase, spending (an average of) more than $1,500, which is more than double the average.'
No car represents American Muscle -- which is the theme of this year's SEMA show -- like the Ford Mustang.
'Mustang continues to be at the top of the customization hill,' said Feuell, noting that Ford introduced a number of new specialty models this year, including the Shelby GT500, Shelby GT and California Special. 'Despite the numerous factory offerings, Mustang is still the most customized vehicle on the market.'
The bright white SEMA Mustang sports a California Special body kit, 18-inch Black Bullit wheels, Shelby rear spoiler and blackout panel, hood stripes, blacked-out grille and a stainless steel fuel door.
FRPP supplied the Lycoming supercharger, headers, exhaust and blue powder-coated valve covers along with a suspension lowering kit, Hurst shifter, stud girdle and sill plates. Katzkin, a premier manufacturer of custom leather interiors, outfitted the Mustang. A unique rear tonneau fits over the Mustang's back seat, transforming it into a speedster.
The all-new Ford Edge will make its first appearance at SEMA. One of several vehicles that will be on display is a Blazing Copper Metallic model fitted with a 3dCarbon body kit and NC forged three-piece 22-inch wheels. The interior features Katzkin leather, Mobil-Ease hands-free cell phone system and a headrest DVD system.
'We believe that this boldly styled crossover lends itself very well to personalization,' said Feuell. 'We think there is plenty of opportunity in this market as crossover vehicles continue to grow to what we expect will be one of the top segments by the end of the decade.'
According to Feuell, the SEMA show is an ideal testing ground for Vehicle Personalization products and accessories.
'Last year, we introduced a mobile office concept for Ford trucks,' she §äid. 'Based on the great reception it received, the new FordLink™ mobile office system is now on sale through Ford dealerships across the country.'
Ford also introduced a customized performance Fusion at last year's SEMA show that sported a body kit by one of the top aftermarket companies, 3dCarbon. This year, the 3dCarbon appearance package is available through Vehicle Personalization as a dealer-installed option.
'People are turned on by what looks cool and different, and if they can make their vehicles look a little bit different from what's in dealer stock by just changing a headlamp or putting on a different grille or adding some chrome accents, then it's a pretty cost-effective way to make their vehicle more theirs,' said Feuell. 'And that's really what personalization is all about.'
'People are turned on by what looks cool and different, and if they can make their vehicles look a little bit different from what's in dealer stock by just changing a headlamp or putting on a different grille or adding some chrome accents, then it's a pretty cost-effective way to make their vehicle more theirs,' said Feuell. 'And that's really what personalization is all about.'Source - Ford