The (SEMA) Show Must Go On

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
the sema show must go on

Spending the last three months chronicling every every single cancellation related to the coronavirus hasn’t been any more enjoyable than reading about it. And, while we apologize for putting you though that, there honestly isn’t much else to report on when every manufacturer on the planet suddenly enters into a panicked lockdown. Thankfully, we seem to be nearing the end of being forced to issue updates on the latest cancelled soirée you had your hopes set on attending.

Despite automotive trade shows being canceled in Detroit, Geneva, and Paris this year, the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) show scheduled for November is still on. We may also see the New York Auto Show, which was rescheduled, take place in August — assuming the Javits Center remains underutilized for COVID patients through the summer and NYC doesn’t see a sudden spike in infection rates. However, SEMA is the first major event that seems like a sure thing in the automotive realm and, boy, are we glad to hear it.

“While many near-term industry events have been postponed or canceled, the industry’s manufacturers are currently going full-bore with plans and preparations for both the 2020 SEMA Show in November and the PRI Show in December,” SEMA president Chris Kersting said late last week.

“I’m not surprised. Our industry has historically demonstrated fortitude and resolve in the face of adversity. The SEMA Show was the first major business gathering in the U.S. following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. In the heart of the Great Recession in 2009 and 2010, SEMA exhibitors and buyers again turned out in force, laying the groundwork for the recovery that followed. Currently, we see that the vast majority of member companies are planning to exhibit this year, and some 2,000 plus are expected to take part in this month’s booth selection process. They are determined that the SEMA Show will help launch the industry into a successful 2021.”

Kersting said there will be conditions, however. SEMA plans on making a few changes, noting that the whole of the automotive industry will need to “find ways to do business while providing for the health, safety and well-being of all involved.” SEMA also launched a resource website to help the aftermarket community apply for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and small business loans or parse through updated health guidelines for businesses. Additionally, Kersting said the event would provide refundable deposits and deferred deadlines for vendors to make participation easier to commit to (and back out of).

None of that guarantees SEMA for 2020, but we at least now know the organization is pushing through with plans to actually have the event, which is the most we’ve been able to say about any major trade show since the year began. Due to its Las Vegas locale, there’s reason to hold out hope. Despite Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak (D) suggesting extending lockdowns through at least June, Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman has said the measures are effectively hurting the city’s ability to exist — calling them totally insane.

“This shutdown has become one of total insanity in my opinion, for there is no backup of data as to why we are shut down from the start,” Goodman said during a City Council meeting from mid-April. A self-described independent, she has criticized any whiff of coronavirus-related partisanship and said that all she cares about it is solving the economic crisis while addressing health risks.

“We cannot keep our heads in the sand and think it’s going to go away,” she said in the same meeting. “We’re adults with brains who can know what to do to wash our hands, to take all precautions not to spread this disease.”

Goodman has since offered to make Las Vegas a control group. While framed as irresponsible by some, many argued that the city’s heavy reliance on tourism makes it the best candidate for the job — as it has the most to lose under lockdown mandates. Meanwhile, detractors claim it’d be ground zero for a viral resurgence, helping spread the illness across the country as crowds of people travel in and out of the area on vacation.

We’re of the mind that winds have already begun shifting. Even though the automotive industry doesn’t like to issue messaging that might upset large swaths of the country (unless it pertains to layoffs), it’s preparing to resume operation as closely to normal as can be managed. Increasingly large protests are taking place in which U.S. citizens are demanding the right to return to work. Even though the coronavirus will still be around come November, we don’t think the current ultra-protective mindset will be joining — unless a major incident occurs between then and now.

[Images: SEMA]

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  • El scotto El scotto on May 12, 2020

    Will we ever get to the point where Wal-Mart will employ geezers as greeters again? I imagine most of us would give dad/grandad money to stay home.

  • Thelaine Thelaine on May 13, 2020

    The CDC specifically says the virus targets people 65 years and older, those who live in a nursing home or long-term care facilities, and those with underlying medical conditions — that as it happens are associated with aging. Add those with a body mass index of 40 or above, which means incredibly obese. Even British Professor Neil Ferguson testified “as many as half or two-thirds” of deaths labeled as COVID-19 may have occurred by the end of the year anyway “because this is affecting people either at the end of their lives or with poor health conditions.” Yes, that’s the same Neil Ferguson whose model of from around 1.1 – 2.2 million U.S. deaths probably had the single greatest effect on putting countries throughout the world into lockdowns. (And who was later caught violating the British lockdown with someone else’s wife.) Conversely, almost everywhere children’s schools are closed even as growing evidence shows that children are the least likely to become infected, to be symptomatic if infected, and to become spreaders. The only true risk to children is the hysteria and the very lockdowns the Orwellian trappings encourage. Indeed, according to a U.N. report, millions of children may die from the devastation we inflict on the world economy each day we refuse to acknowledge that we are not all equals and refuse to open up economies. The chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, Gita Gopinath, published an assessment of what she called “the Great Lockdown,” saying it will be “the worst recession since the Great Depression, and far worse than the global financial crisis” of 2007-2008.

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    • Thelaine Thelaine on May 13, 2020

      @mcs The declared purpose of the lockdown was to mitigate what was projected to be a complete meltdown of available intensive care and hospital beds nationwide or in now common parlance “bend the curve.” At the height of the virus outbreak, the nation utilized less than 15% of available hospital beds and less than 20% of available intensive care beds for coronavirus patients. This curve has been bent for some time. Deaths from nursing and senior care facilities homes now account for more than 50% of total recorded fatalities since the beginning of the epidemic. In some states it is as high as 80%. Over the past three weeks nursing home related deaths account for nearly 70% of reported fatalities. As Daniel Horowitz at Conservative Review recently wrote: This revelation should change everything we know about the current state of affairs with coronavirus. Governors are still justifying the continued lockdown by pointing to rising deaths in many states and counties. But it now appears, using simple arithmetic, that in most states, the overwhelming majority of deaths are in nursing homes, and in some states and counties, nearly every new death is in a senior facility. The implication is that there is no excuse whatsoever not to open up the country and throw all our resources at protecting nursing homes. Numerous serology study results have been extrapolated to show when accounting for the true number of people who have gotten this virus, the infection fatality rate drops to 0.1% to 0.3% (about the same as the annual flu). A recent study at Truesdale Prison in Tennessee recorded that of 2,444 tests 1,299 were positive (53%) and 96% of those were asymptomatic (showing no symptoms). One inmate (67 years old) has died or a fatality rate of 0.07%. Accounting for the fact that the deaths are lopsided among the elderly and chronically ill, the fatality rate among the younger population approaches 0.03%. This virus will never disappear unless and until there is enough exposure to produce a collective immunity or an effective vaccine, available to everyone in the world, is produced. There is no scientific basis, centered on actual findings either in the United States or around the world, for continuing for weeks or months any full or partial shutdown of the general population on either the national, state or local level. The economic consequences are dire. All of us whether a tenured college professor and a grocery store clerk and a government bureaucrat and an over-the-road truck driver value and depend upon the economy to generate wealth. Hundreds of thousands of businesses are on the verge of bankruptcy and permanent closure. 33+ million are unemployed, many are forced against their will to be dependent on government largess and the federal government is creating massive unsustainable debt in an attempt to keep the nation afloat. A thriving economy, the kind we are now destroying, is the source of our security, the financing of our health care system and our children’s future. Without it this nation as we know it will cease to exist. While our leftist brothers may sneer at this reality, it should also be remembered that poverty kills as well. And when it does not kill, it maims, mentally, physically and socially.

  • Jeff S I am not a fan of Tesla and they were niche vehicles but it seems that they have become more common. I doubt if I get an EV that it would be a Tesla. The electrical grid will have to be expanded because people over the long run are not going to accept the excuse of the grid can't handle people charging their EVs.
  • AMcA The '70 Continentals and Town Cars may have been cousins to the standard body Fords and Mercurys, they didn't have to be disguised, because they had unique, unbelievably huge bodies of their own. Looking at the new 1970 interior, I'd say it was also a cost savings in sewing the seat. Button tufted panels like the 1969 interior had require a lot of sewing and tufting work. The 1970 interior is mostly surface sewing on a single sheet of upholstery instead of laboriously assembled smaller pieces. FINALLY: do I remember correctly that the shag carpet shown under these cars was a Photoshop? They didn't really go so peak '70s as to photograph cars on shag carpets, did they?
  • Inside Looking Out Toyota makes mass market cars. Their statement means that EVs are not mass market yet. But then Tesla managed to make mass market car - Mode; 3. Where I live in CA there are more Tesla Model 3s on streets than Corollas.
  • Ltcmgm78 A lot of dirt must turn before there's an EV in every driveway. There must be a national infrastructure plan written by other than politicians chasing votes. There must be reliable batteries that hopefully aren't sourced from strategic rivals. There must be a way to charge a lot of EVs. Toyota is wisely holding their water. There is a danger in urging unplanned and hasty moves away from ICE vehicles. Do we want to listen to unending speeches every election cycle that we are closer than we have ever been to 100% electrification and that voting for certain folks will make it happen faster? Picture every car in your town suddenly becoming all electric and a third of them need a charge or the driver will be late for work. This will take a lot of time and money.
  • Kendahl One thing I've learned is that cars I buy for local errands tend to be taken on 1,000 mile trips, too. We have a 5-speed Focus SE that has gone on longer trips than I ever expected. It has served us well although, if I had it to do over again, I would have bought an ST. At the time of purchase, we didn't plan to move from 1,000 feet elevation to 6,500. The SE is still adequate but the ST's turbo and extra power would have been welcome.