Aftermarket products can return pizzazz to production vehicles

Jan 17, 2013

Aftermarket products can help consumers avoid disappointment caused by design compromises made after vehicles are released on auto show floors.

Although the 50 new vehicles debuted at the North American International Auto Show running Jan. 14-27 in Detroit might attract a lot of initial attention, countless rounds of revision leading up to production can alter cars’ “wow factors.”

“You’re going to see a lot of optional equipment at the show: the sport package, the upgraded brakes, the wider wheels for the back of the car,” said Keith Alinder, technical director for Wheel Pros, a manufacturer and distributor of aftermarket wheels, in a press release. “Sometimes you’ll see wheel and tire sizes that were never even made to sell.”

Because automakers want to wow the press and wow consumers at these big shows, often using non-stock items that add the bling, aftermarket companies have the entryway to offer dealers the items, in packages or as solo products that consumers will be looking for.

Alinder said one of the easiest ways to put the wow factor back into a production car is to order up a new set of rims.

“We send people from our company to Detroit to get a feel for what’s coming out in 2014 and 2015 so we can make sure we have product available the day a customer drives off the lot with their new car,” he said.

Vehicle personalization is also benefiting dealerships, signaling a healthy restyling market for accessory dealers.  For example, Toyota of Braintree, a new- and used-car dealership serving the metro Boston region, reported exceeding $2.1 million in new-vehicle accessory sales in 2012. According to Insignia Group, the dealership is the nation’s “Accessories Sales Champion” when it comes to vehicle personalization in 2012.