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Truck Accessories and SUV Accessories - An Overview and Some History

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          Much like the vehicles which they modify, specialty performance equipment and truck accessories enjoy an interesting history. According to the SEMA, the truck accessory industry finds its beginning in the 1930’s. Once motor vehicles became available to a broad base of consumers, a group of enthusiasts (mostly interested in racing and competing in other ways with fellow motorists) quickly emerged. The years leading up to World War II saw racers in the southern Californian deserts forming their own “R&D” (i.e. Research and Development) organizations as they tinkered with stock equipment and made all manner of ad hoc modification. As with so many other domestic industries, the expansion and standardization of auto accessories was delayed by World War II, which placed unprecedented demands on U.S. resources. Following the war, however, the new expertise acquired from the maintenance of military trucks, coupled with the widespread war-starved consumer desire for new vehicles and innovation, gave birth to a full-fledged truck accessories industry, the sole purpose of which would be to give consumers the freedom to augment/enhance their vehicles as they saw fit (within the limits of the law, of course). The manufacturers you will find at, from Bully Dog (performance diesel products) to Westin, Inc. (makers of Westin Nerf Bars), can all claim some share in the history we have briefly touched upon here.

           Trucks and SUVs are of considerable variety and so are the accessories that enhance them. Some people choose their truck or SUV for purely aesthetic reasons, others because of specific performance needs. Which truck will do a better job towing? Which SUV is the most fuel efficient? These are questions that the thoughtful consumer must consider before choosing an SUV or truck. In this way, the consumer makes an informed investment. But extracting the most from this investment requires vigilant maintenance, wise fuel-consumption habits, and investing in truck accessories for performance enhancement. The last bit is what our site is devoted to, the SUV and Truck Accessory. Of course, we also sell accessories for enhancing the visual appeal of your vehicle. If you're going to turn your truck or SUV into a high-performance machine, you ought to make sure it looks like one! It is interesting to note that such aesthetic enhancements are accounting for more and more of the specialty auto accessory market share. According to SEMA (Speciality Equipment and Marketing Association), the "accessories and appearance" category was the only one to increase its share of the “specialty equipment” market over the last ten years, rising from 51.1% in 1996 to 58.1% in 2005.

The full breakdown of market share by category is given by the 2006 SEMA Market Study:

SegmentSales (in billions)  Market Share
Accessories & Appearance 6.94 USD 58.1%
Racing & Performance 2.12 17.7%
Wheels, Tires, and Suspension 2.89  24.2%
Total  11.95    100.00


               As you can see, the automotive “specialty equipment” industry has a large market volume. This is because serious truck and SUV enthusiasts realize that their investment in truck accessories will produce meaningful returns, either in terms of enjoyment or performance and fuel economy. It is precisely because the market base is comprised of enthusiasts, rather than casual drivers, that the industry is still growing. Specialty equipment consumers buy parts and accessories as a matter of choice, not out of necessity, as is the case with typical motorists. Of course, you might not yet be an enthusiast and are wondering where to begin in exploring your options.  According to the SEMA report cited above, appearance and body accessories are “the non-enthusiast's initial contact with our industry”. However, even if you are a new pickup or SUV owner, it can never hurt to study possible enhancements (using our learning center or the links found on our site) and hit the ground rolling with your investment.

                Before you look for specific Ford truck accessories, Toyota truck accessories etc., a brief catalogue of the products that comprise these distinct market shares is in order. “Accessories and Appearance” include sunroofs, ground effects, hood deflectors, tail light lens covers, windshield wiper control systems, and chrome accessories. “Racing & Performance” include performance exhaust systems, engine monitors and downloaders, air intake and filter systems, to name a few. Finally, “Wheel, Tires, and Suspension” is self-explanatory.  SEMA, identifies these three market shares in terms of products, but the market when viewed in terms of target consumer groups can be divided into 9 distinct niches. The two niches to which our site caters are the “light truck market” and the “Off-road market”. The light truck market is the largest of the niches, and comprises owners of SUV’s, pickups, and vans.  As aforementioned, over half of vehicle owners in the U.S. drive light trucks.  The off-road market covers those drivers who use their vehicles for recreation and adventure. Of course, the light-truck and off-road markets share a non-trivial intersection , as many people who own vehicles designed specifically for off-road and recreational activities never leave the pavement , having driving habits that are essentially the same as those exhibited by their light-truck driving peers. However the true off-roader, in particular, will definitely want to invest in performance equipment.

                We hope that you have found the preceding discussion both informative and entertaining. The history of truck performance accessories (whether they be Toyota truck accessories, Dodge truck accessories, or a Freedom Grille) is a phenomenon in which every truck driver should aspire to take part. It is interesting to note that the title of the 2006 SEMA market study is “Specialty Equipment Products: Freedom In Action“. This title captures the essence of what investing in truck performance accessories is all about. Your vehicle, much like your clothes and taste in music, should be a means of self-expression and individual creativity.  What's more, investing in the right truck performance accessories makes financial and environmental sense.  Regardless of your particular priorities, is the best source for truck performance accessories.  Our site and our staff are here to make sure your vehicle realizes its potential to be the very best. Now that's freedom in action!

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Read Truck Champ's Article on the History of the Pickup Truck and SUV