Feeling Sporty

Jun 12, 2013

Quick and agile, sport compacts have carved out a permanent niche in the performance aftermarket. Strong numbers and a widening reach offer ample opportunity for shops considering the small-car market.

Along with their growing street cred, sport compacts also have a high profile in a variety of motorsports arenas including road racing, drag racing and drifting. High-horsepower applications with plenty of cornering and braking strength are abundant.

Their ranks are growing, and now include the latest offerings from Subaru, Scion, Porsche and other OEMs. Add it all up and it’s a fun, exciting market attractive to younger enthusiasts with a definite high-tech edge.

Manufacturers in the sport compact arena share updates on what’s new, what’s happening and how shops can benefit from sport compact business this summer.

Energy Suspension
San Clemente, Calif.
Michael Santa Cruz
Director of Marketing

Our hottest new sport compact product is…

…our 2013 Scion FR-S/Subaru BRZ components, including Hyper-Flexpolyurethane front and rear control arm bushings, sway bar bushings, rack and pinion and manual shifter bushings.

Its best features include…

…specifically formulated polyurethane designed to optimize driving and handling characteristics while maintaining acceptable NVH (noise, vibration and harshness) levels. Hyper-Flex is extremely durable yet compliant and will outlast OE rubber. All components are available in red or black.

Shops should be optimistic about the current state of the sport compact market because…

…it’s an ever-changing market in that “sport compact” cover’s several types of vehicles-import or domestic. Whether they’re performance-specific or fuel-efficient, enthusiasts to commuters want to improve and personalize what they are driving.

Recently, there has also been a strong resurgence of sport compacts in motorsports, including road racing, drag racing and drifting, which is creating more interest and awareness across the board.

The biggest misconception currently surrounding the sport compact market is…

…that it’s limited. No longer classified as just imports or “econo-boxes,” sport compacts are designed with performance, efficiency, style and comfort, attracting a new generation of customers.

Modern technology is affecting the sport compact market by…

…developing more fuel-efficient powertrains and utilizing lighter, stronger materials, making newer-model sport compacts more appealing and fun to drive.

One thing shops can do to better serve the sport compact market is…

…obtain valid information. There is a flood of new models coming and they should try to keep up on the new features and technologies that are now available. Promote clearly that you offer products and services for sport compact vehicles.

HKS – imported by Motovicity Distribution
Madison Heights., Mich.
Scott Cole
Brand Manager

Our hottest new sport compact product is…

…the newly released centrifugal supercharger kits for the Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ.

Its best features include…

…a proprietary “torque response traction drive” system that reduces parasitic loss at low load/rpm levels. It allows for a very compact drive unit and unsurpassed durability and longevity.

Shops should be optimistic about the current state of the sport compact market because…

…OEM technology is evolving and advancing at such an amazing pace. Manufacturers in the performance industry are constantly developing new products and performance solutions.

The biggest misconception currently surrounding the sport compact market is…

…that it is fading away or shrinking.

Modern technology is affecting the sport compact market by…

…forcing constant development of new products and performance solutions, especially in the ECU tuning segment.

One thing shops can do to better serve the sport compact market is…

…continue to innovate and demand cutting-edge performance products from manufacturers based on your customers’ needs. Feedback from the streets and shops is critical for the continual development of new products.

Fluidampr
Springville, N.Y.
Brian LeBarron
Marketing Representative

Our hottest new sport compact product is…

…Fluidampr recently released performance dampers for the Honda S2000 and Volkswagen/Audi/Porsche vehicles equipped with the VR6 engine.

Its best features include…

…both were developed and tested in conjunction with leading race engine builders. The Fluidampr design provides improved, long-lasting engine protection, performance and durability over the stock elastomer harmonic balancer as modifications are made.

Shops should be optimistic about the current state of the sport compact market because…

…it focuses on the total package, not just engine performance. There are opportunities for upgrades in suspension, braking, aerodynamics and data acquisition for creating precision setups. It’s often not all done at once, so shops that focus on quality and building relationships can realize repeat business.

The biggest misconception currently surrounding the sport compact market is…

…it’s a young crowd and therefore has no discretionary income. In reality, according to the latest annual SEMA Market Research report, 94 percent of the compact performance market is under 35. But at $4.9 billion in retail sales, it has grown to be the second largest market segment.

That is more than racing, restoration and street rods combined. I’d say that is a lot of young people spending money.

I believe today’s performance-oriented sport compact owner is very wise in their spending. With vast knowledge at their fingertips, much more emphasis is placed on researching and choosing the best parts before they step foot in your shop.

Modern technology is affecting the sport compact market by…

…for the displacement of these engines, the level of power, precision and accuracy that can be achieved with today’s technology in talented hands is impressive.

On one hand, you have today’s professional tuners leveraging data acquisition and enhancing the vehicle’s computer management systems. On the other, you have manufacturers listening to the tuners, then using sophisticated modeling software and state-of-the-art machining to develop higher-quality parts.

One thing shops can do to better serve the sport compact market is…

…reach out to manufacturers and partner with them to develop new products that will benefit your customers. For complex issues like crankshaft torsional vibration, shops will see the carnage first, as sport compact owners continue to push new limits.

Throughout Fluidampr’s history, many damper applications have been created because engine builders have approached our engineering team to provide a superior product to common elastomer and rubber O-ring-type dampers.

Gates Corp.
Denver, Colo.
Tom Trojan
Senior Manager, Product Marketing

Our hottest new sport compact product is…

-¦ the Gates Racing Performance Muscle (RPM) Timing Belt Component Kit with water pump.

Its best features include…

…Gates set the standard for timing belts and is a global leader in timing belt innovation. From tooth profiles to carbon cords and fabrics, Gates has been granted more timing belt patents in the U.S. than anyone else in the industry. Our TCKs with water pump include all the parts necessary for a complete timing system replacement in one package.

Gates Racing Performance Muscle Timing Belts are extremely durable, providing up to three-times the life of most timing belts. This, combined with our high-quality tensioners and pulleys-as well as water pumps that are designed and built for long-lasting, efficient cooling-gives the consumer reassurance of a complete timing system replacement that will endure the demands of higher horsepower.

Shops should be optimistic about the current state of the sport compact market because…

…as a supplier of OEM and high-horsepower products, Gates is fully aware of the sport compact market and will continue to expand our RPM product line to meet the needs of the $11 billion market. Across the nation, consumers are taking a variety of makes and models and transforming them into high-performance and customized street machines.

Here are some numbers:

·         $8.5 billion spent on the appearance of their cars, on accessories and on high-performance products to improve their racing capabilities.

·         $16 million spent on their cooling systems.

·         24 percent of these car owners each invest over $5,000.

From superchargers and turbochargers to advanced cooling applications, specialty equipment manufacturers continually modify OE engine designs to create cutting-edge aftermarket products. The ultimate goal is to increase horsepower by using the most advanced, high-tech products available in the market today.

We see consumers continuing to personalize and enhance the performance of their vehicles with aftermarket and specialty equipment products, ensuring the future of this market segment.

The biggest misconception currently surrounding the sport compact market is…

…that it is going away. Passionate, performance-driven enthusiasts purchasing vehicles within this market to enhance and personalize will continue to grow, similar to the off-road and muscle car markets.

Modern technology is affecting the sport compact market by…

…turbos, which offer performance and fuel economy. Turbo technology is driving this market.

One thing shops can do to better serve the sport compact market is…

…conduct complete system service repairs on vehicles. Whether it’s a cooling system, accessory belt drive system, timing system, fuel injection system, etc., do the complete job by replacing all the necessary parts to satisfy the customer, ensure reliability and produce optimum performance.