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SEMA Auto Show Revved Up Its EV Aftermarket Exhibition

One of the biggest qualms gearheads have with electric vehicles (EVs) is the lack of aftermarket parts and maintenance available. If you’re looking to customize an EV, finding what you need and guides that will teach you how to install it can be tough. The Speciality Equipment Market Association (SEMA) has a solution for you. At the SEMA Auto Show in Las Vegas from Nov. 1–4, EV aftermarket exhibitions were expanded to include more educational opportunities for motor enthusiasts on parts and conversion. 

SEMA had an established showcase for aftermarket EV maintenance and custom cars, but nothing like what happened at this year’s show.

Held at the Las Vegas Convention Center, the North Hall housed one of the largest electric car exhibitions. Most displayed plug-in vehicles and other technologies that any motorist should consider if they are looking for a cleaner, more efficient ride. 

Based on the size of the Electrified Hall — the designated EV section of the convention — it’s clear that the auto show recognized the industry trend. Electric tech is here to stay, so enthusiasts need to understand how to maintain or convert classic cars into high-grade, cleaner performance. In 2019, the Electrified Hall was only 2,500 square feet; this year, it was up to 21,000 square feet.

Let’s say you had an old Camaro in your garage that you wanted to restore. The aging gas-powered engine probably won’t be as reliable, and the mileage would be less desirable. You may spend more time and money filling up the tank than driving. Enter the educational opportunities at SEMA. 

A company known as App EV set up an exhibit this year and offered custom conversion specifications for classic cars. At the stand, you could learn how to convert the motor to electric power, install a charging block in the gas cap, and other aspects of EV maintenance. App EV batteries get between 225 to 275 miles of range and have overnight charging capabilities. The firm’s website offers a comparison of their specs compared to an original classic engine.

Photo Courtesy SEMA

Another conversion company at SEMA was Electric GT. It has similar conversion aspects as App EV, with the big difference being the eCrate powertrain. Essentially, one could swap the chassis of a classic car with an electric powertrain and battery for seamless conversion. You can get all the power of a V8 engine without the emissions. 

One highlight of these types of EV conversions on display was a 1987 Nissan Sunny pickup truck. Created by Tommy Pike Customs in South Carolina, the mechanics used a motor from a Nissan Leaf and a 40-kilowatt battery.

The Japanese carmaker is using the custom pickup to advertise how gearheads everywhere don’t have to stick to aging internal combustion engines for continuity’s sake. The truck has even been proven to be more powerful with an electric motor.

Photo Courtesy ElectricGT

SEMA seems to be embracing EVs as the next wave, saying in a press release that “electric vehicles represent a fast-growing market with huge potential for the aftermarket.” Having an expanded exhibition hall this year was an innovative way to drive more EV ownership, giving hesitant classic car owners a lifeline for a longer lifespan of their beloved vehicles. Since almost every car can be converted, a new streak of electric owners may be on the horizon.  


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