Auto Shows | October 27 2015

From hot rods to high tech – the performance evolution at SEMA

In the performance car world, the concept of ‘cool’ has always been equated with fast. But that concept is undergoing some ‘retooling’ these days.

“The future of customization is all about being fast and cool … but also smart and connected. This is the golden age of new performance,” according to Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) VP of Vehicle Technology John Waraniak.

In a recent interview, the diehard performance car enthusiast stressed that real ‘street cred’ for the kids coming up will need to pair horsepower with computer power. Vehicle connectivity, vehicle electronics and the advent of software customization are being driven by millennials, Waraniak said, who have come to expect that their phone will work in their car, and if it doesn’t, “they’ll get a different car.”

One of the objectives of SEMA, Waraniak added, is helping to constantly fill the performance pipeline with new talent, young millennials looking for automotive careers, to define what the ‘cool factor’ will be for the next and succeeding generations.

So, how does a performance guy like Waraniak feel about technology taking the wheel with automated vehicles? “It’s going to change the industry,” however for those boring stretches of roadway, he’s all for letting ‘Robbie the Robot drive.’ But, he added, “I think you’re going to see a new button, the ‘fun’ button. You can push that ‘fun’ button so that all these systems can be turned off and you’re back at the steering wheel.”

The annual SEMA trade show kicks off next week, Nov. 3-6, in Las Vegas, Nevada.