New for your car: logo rims, fuzzy wrap and air mattress beds
One of Las Vegas’ largest and best-attended conventions rolled into the Las Vegas Convention Center on Tuesday, bringing car enthusiasts and thousands of automotive products together for four days of deal-making.
The 2012 SEMA Show — for Specialty Equipment Market Association — is the core of Automotive Aftermarket Week in the city, as the event pairs with the Automotive Aftermarket Products Exposition being staged at the Sands Expo Center.
Both shows deal with add-on car products. Attendees jokingly refer to AAPEX as the show for equipment you have to put on your car and SEMA as the one with things you’d like to put on your car. Both shows are open only to industry professionals, not the public.
About 130,000 people are expected to attend the events, including 60,000 domestic and international buyers. They’re perusing products from more than 2,200 exhibitors, including 1,500 new releases.
Since the public can’t get into the show, VEGAS INC stepped in to take a look at some of the new products that have just been made available to consumers or soon will be on store shelves.
Deluxe Vehicle Wrap
Many cars look velvety with exotic paint jobs. But only vehicles that have been treated with the Velvet Cars Deluxe Vehicle Wrap actually feel like they’re coated in velvet.
Franck Agard, whose business card refers to him as “Frank Fuzzy,” said installers nationwide can apply the self-adhesive vinyl-coated synthetic fibers that come in 12 stock colors and 22 other colors available on request.
The Houston company sells 25-yard rolls of the material that are 60 inches wide. It's waterproof and scratch resistant, and Agard said it can withstand the desert’s hot summers.
Each roll of material sells for $1,500.
In Nevada, it’s against the law to use a cellphone while driving, but motorists do it all the time.
TextBuster, developed by Access2Communications, blocks texting but not telephone calls, in case of emergencies.
Brett Barta, of the Ohio company, said the product includes a 2 1/2-inch device that plugs into a car’s fuse panel. Users also downloaded an application onto a smartphone. Whenever the phone operator enters the vehicle, a Bluetooth signal is sent blocking text, email and Internet functions on the phone but not incoming or outgoing calls.
The device, which can be purchased online for $179, has an added bonus for parents concerned about their children’s welfare when they drive the family car. It becomes a GPS-driven tracking monitor with satellite map and street views that will send email alerts whenever the vehicle leaves or enters a specified zone or exceeds a specified speed.
Another alert is sent if the TextBuster is disabled or the app deleted.
Yaba Surface Sound
PLX Devices has a new product that turns any flat surface into a speaker, which sometimes comes in handy when you want to crank up tunes when on the road.
Tyler James of the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company said the device would be available by Christmas and will sell for $70 through the company’s website, plxdevices.com.
The device doesn’t have a grip surface, but its unusual shape allows it to be wedged into surface areas, and it will plug into all iPods, iPhones or MP3 players.
AirBedz Truck Bed Air Mattresses
Pittman Outdoors has refined its custom-fit air mattresses that fit snugly in the bed of large and midsize pickup trucks or vans.
The AirBedz mattresses are spaced to fit around wheel wells and have inflatable panels that can convert the truck-bed fit to a standard air mattress.
The product is available online for $120 and soon will be on the shelves at the Sportsman’s Warehouse in northwest Las Vegas.
For motorists wanting to show their national pride or their support for their luxury brand or sports team, there’s StatiCap, a set of personalized car accessories that fit over the center of a wheel but won’t rotate when the car is in motion.
Chris Mahar said the product was developed in Europe and currently comes in 30 designs, most depicting national flags.
“We thought that was the easiest place to start because we don’t have to have a licensing agreement for flags,” Mahar said.
There are some sports team logos depicted — mostly European soccer teams — but the goal will be to develop agreements with National Football League, National Basketball Association and Major League Baseball teams.
The first StatiCaps were designed for BMW wheels, and a set of four cost $300 to $350.
Some of the cool things you’ll see at SEMA aren’t for sale, but they’re still fun to look at.
One display had a working Squad Mission Support System unmanned vehicle that was tested by U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
The vehicle is designed to carry military supplies and can either be guided by wireless technology or on a predetermined course.
The vehicle was on display at the Superwinch exhibit. Scott Peterson of Dayville, Conn.-based Superwinch said his company was selected to provide the winch system on the vehicle that was used on the recent military mission.
You’ve fixed up your car, installed performance-enhancing gadgets and made dozens of adjustments. How do you know if everything you’ve done is making the car run better?
With DashCommand, produced by Pleasant Grove, Utah-based Palmer Performance Engineering, you can turn your smartphone or tablet into an in-car diagnostic computer.
Roger Lemmon of Palmer said a device is plugged into a car’s onboard diagnostic port — a standard feature on all American cars built after 1996 and all vehicles manufactured after 1998.
An app is downloaded to the phone or tablet and a menu of performance monitors is activated. Operators can view engine parameters, fuel economy, trip statistics and other indicators to keep a vehicle at peak performance.
Bluetooth, Wi-Fi or a direct connection is used to transmit information generated by the diagnostic port to the phone.
The gadgets range in price from $190 to $230.
Several Southern Nevada companies displayed products at SEMA.
Long-time Las Vegan Ron Shlisky showed Louver Art’s bolt-in louvers that vent under-the-hood heat from engines. The louvers, which come in six sizes, range in price from $39 to $79 and are manufactured in Las Vegas.
What about the art?
The company also offers louvered garage tins that can be customized with individual colors and logos for display in offices and garages.