Sights & Sounds from SEMA 2021
by Ken Devlin
Director of Marketing, Automotive Services Group
I’ve been to quite a few trade shows in my career, but SEMA is unlike anything I had ever seen. Last week was my first opportunity to attend this event in person, but I promise it will not be the last. From squealing tires to revving engines, and from tricked-out classics to the latest gadgets, SEMA 2021 had it all.
Even with all of the amazing cars on display, the highlight of the week was undoubtedly being able to see people face-to-face (or mask-to-mask) once again.
The Show Floor
SEMA boasts over a million square feet of exhibit space in multiple halls of the Las Vegas Convention Center, and I feel like I walked every one! Most of my time was spent on the Upper Level of the South Hall where CCC hosted a booth. All the Collision Repair products were in this section, from shop management software to diagnostics solutions to tools & equipment used in the repair process.
A few industry veterans said they felt like foot traffic was light early in the week compared to past years, but it definitely picked up on Wednesday and Thursday. As of this writing, official attendance numbers haven’t been released, but any reduction in numbers was made up for in excitement. If I had a nickel for every time I heard, “It’s so good to be back in person,” well, maybe I could fund a trip to space with Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos.
At the CCC booth, customers were invited to learn more about several new products and features, but most of the conversations and demos focused on CCC® Estimating on cccone.com. Many shops walked away with a new understanding of why writing estimates that way makes so much sense.
(To learn more about CCC Estimating on cccone.com, click HERE or contact your local representative HERE.)
The Society of Collision Repair Specialists (SCRS) hosted a wide variety of education sessions covering topics from technical know-how to marketing strategies to industry trends. There were also ancillary events like the Collision Industry Conference and the MSO Symposium where panel discussions on different topics were held with industry experts.
A common theme across sessions was increasing vehicle complexity from growth of ADAS and Electric Vehicles (EVs). On the ADAS front, virtually all new vehicles will minimally have Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) by the end of 2022. And numerous OEMs aim to grow their share of sales from EVs to 40% – 50% by 20301. Speakers highlighted the need for more diagnostic scanning and calibrations as well as expanding the skillsets of repair technicians as vehicle complexities increase.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) was also a hot topic as collision repairers adopt new technologies to streamline their shop processes. Jason Verlen, CCC’s Senior Vice President of Product Strategy, participated in a panel discussion at the Collision Industry Conference and spoke to some common misconceptions about AI. According to Verlen, AI is not taking the place of humans but augmenting workflows and driving to faster, more complete decisions. AI, especially when combined with human intelligence, can accelerate the assessment of vehicle damage early in the process. This creates a much more positive customer experience that can lead to increased business.
The Outdoor Experience
Early November in Las Vegas is a fantastic time to be outside. Each day of SEMA 2021 was sunny and in the high 70s, which made for great walking-around weather. And not just on the Las Vegas Strip!
While there is a lot to SEE at SEMA, once you venture outside of the Las Vegas Convention Center, what you HEAR is just as much a part of the experience. Don’t let the transition to EVs fool you – there were plenty of burnouts and donuts from ICEs at the Hoonigan Drift Show.
This image from the Internal Combustion Facebook page really captures the spirit of what was on display.
From souped-up cars, trucks, and 4x4s to over a million square feet of demo space, four days at SEMA 2021 was barely enough to take it all in. I think I’ll have to go back in 2022 to try it again.
1 – https://www.reuters.com/business/autos-transportation/biden-set-target-50-evs-by-2030-industry-backs-goal-2021-08-05/