Automakers' Show Of Force At Sema Every year, the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) show gets bigger and better. This past year, the trend accelerated, with most of the major automakers making their presence and their products a huge part of the show. Here's a quick look at the factory efforts at the world's premier aftermarket show.

General MotorsGM's SEMA exhibit included more than 40 production, concept, and as the marketing types like to say, "brand-directed," vehicles that The General created specially for the show. The display incorporated offerings targeted at a variety of consumers, but the sport trucks were center stage.

To get a read on how important the SEMA show is becoming to GM, it's interesting to note that the origin of three high-performance vehicles - available in dealer showrooms this year - can be traced to the 2002 SEMA show. But those were cars, so we won't bore you with the details. For SUV fans, GM debuted the VUE Red Line, a limited-production sport utility featuring a lowered body; sport-tuned suspension and steering; ground effects; and VUE's new 3.5L, 250hp V-6. Next up for GM Performance Division will be a Chevrolet TrailBlazer SS, an '06-model-year entry that will feature a Corvette-inspired V-8 engine, 20-inch wheels, and a lower suspension than the current production model. The production TrailBlazer SS will be based on the TrailBlazer SS concept originally shown at the 2002 SEMA show.

In addition to showcasing vehicles headed to production, GM uses the SEMA show as a test bed to gauge reaction from the experts in specialty vehicles. It's a process that helps move great ideas from the concept stage into the dealer's showroom as fast as possible.

For example, Chevrolet is developing a portfolio of Z71 trucks with an off-road suspension and high stance, such as the Silverado Crew Cab 4x4 and Extended Cab 4x2, as well as a TrailBlazer 4x4 and a two-wheel-drive version of Colorado. In addition, the company showed the Xtreme version of the Colorado. Chevy also displayed the SSR loaded with GM accessories.

GMC showcased an adventure series of professional off-road trucks, with capabilities for outdoor enthusiasts, each carrying the AT4 designation. The show vehicles are all-terrain variants of trucks: Yukon, outfitted for snow-skiing trips; Envoy XUV, accessorized for the water sports enthusiast; Sierra Crew Cab Short Box, designed with the outdoor enthusiast in mind; and Canyon Crew Cab, outfitted for a kayaking expedition.

Cadillac went, of course, ultra upscale and ultra luxury with the Escalade ESV Executive Limousine and the SRX Black Diamond aimed at skiing and other active-lifestyle pursuits.

Buick highlighted its premium refinement and style to its growing truck portfolio with the Rendezvous and Rainier TW editions. Both concepts explore premium luxury appointments, such as new leathers, fabrics, colors, and finishes.

Hummer hit the show with the functionality and versatility of the new H2 SUT (sport utility truck) with the H2 SUT Dirt Sports concept. The Dirt Sports concept includes off-road dirt bike, camping, and hard-tonneau packages.

GM Accessories also caught SEMA fever, expanding its accessories offerings. In 2001, GM Accessories offered 150 products. That number grew to more than 500 in 2003, and will exceed 1,000 offerings by the end of 2004. At the 2003 SEMA show, GM Accessories had more than 100 parts on display, up from 21 in 2002.

GM Accessories' new offerings include a number of product lines that cross GM's car and truck portfolio, including all-new 20-inch wheels designed specifically for Chevrolet Silverados and GMC Sierras, and 17- and 18-inch custom wheels that will be introduced this year for other GM cars and trucks. Customized interior trim kits, examples of interest to STM readers, were on display in the Chevy Colorado and TrailBlazer, and on Hummer products.