ADAPT: SEMA 2022 Hums with Electricity

Jan. 24, 2023

SEMA Electrified drew a crowd with a 21,000-square-foot area dedicated to over 35 vehicles and nearly 60 different exhibits.

Opening day at the 2022 SEMA Show buzzed with anticipation.

The Specialty Equipment Market Association Show is definitely known for its cars. Everywhere you turn, be it inside the Las Vegas Convention Center or outside in the lots, there are impressive vehicles, each with stories to tell—not to mention great fodder for social media feeds.  

While the car-spotting element of the show is a huge draw, there was another theme throughout SEMA this year that is drawing some attention: electrification.  

For example, SEMA Electrified drew a crowd with a 21,000-square-foot area dedicated to over 35 vehicles and nearly 60 different exhibits. SEMA Electrified was an electric vehicle hub that debuted in 2019. The 2022 event was the largest it has ever been.  

SEMA Electrified showcased a growing niche of custom EVs, as well as new factory EV options such as the Karma GS-6. There were also new versions of beloved classics, like a re-imagined 1965 Ford Mustang from Inspire EV and a 1964 Ford Galax-E 500 from Conductive Classics that had a Tesla Model 3 drivetrain, brakes, wheels and single rear motor. 

Leacy EV hosted educational sessions inside of the SEMA Electrified space, promoting its new Legacy EV Education Roadshow that launches in March 2023 in Detroit, Michigan. The Roadshow will bring EV education to 10 major cities across the country with one week of in-person electric vehicle educational programming across 5 modules.  

On opening day of the SEMA Show 2022, one of the Legacy EV educational sessions called "Electrical Theory" and allowed attendees to listen in on a sampling of what some of the Roadshow content will be like. The session promoted discussion amongst attendees about various aspects of electrical theory basics and provided beginner-level context as to why it is important in the practice of EV repair. 

The Broad Scope of Electrification 

"The Electric Truck: Tap Into New Opportunities" also took place on the first day of the SEMA Show. It was a panel discussion about the promise of electric opportunities for trucks. The panel was moderated by Chris Hamilton of Street Trucks magazine. The panelists included:  

  • Jerome Andre, EV Builder's Guide magazine 
  • Kelleigh Ash, Battle Motors 
  • Tim Cachelin, Legacy EV 
  • Brent Dreher, Faraday Future  
  • Edward Hightower, Lordstown Motors Corporation  
  • Chris Salvo, The Electrified Garage  

The panel discussion started out with some context. Hamilton shared with the group that the global pickup trucks market in full (gas, diesel and electric) was valued at $222.79 billion in 2021. The EV trucks market was valued at $1.26 billion in 2021, and it is estimated at $1.83 billion for 2022 and could reach an estimated $8.99 billion by 2026.

SEMA research also showed that parts and accessories for trucks and SUVs account for 30% of sales specialty equipment sales. This is all to say that there is opportunity in EV trucks. 

Hightower said that a big component of approaching the market is awareness and capacity. He said that he anticipates demand will eventually exceed supply in terms of EVs, even in the truck sector. Hightower is with Lordstown Motors, an EV truck automaker based out of Ohio. 

"Most people when they drive an EV, they're hooked," Hightower said.

Translating that enthusiasm into an electric truck can prove successful, but as Kelleigh Ash of Battle Motors noted, it is still somewhat of a "wild west." 

Battle Motors is a vocational truck manufacturer that is now working with electric options as well in that sector. Ash said that the top priorities for Battle are safety, sustainability and innovation as they explore this sector.  

Brent Dreher spoke to the potential in revolutionizing the truck as an EV, as Faraday Futures is a technology start-up that aims to develop electric vehicles as another point of connectivity in a person's everyday life. He listed WiFi, voice commands and the like as areas that are going to become even more important in the overall driving experience, and that includes trucks.  

"The car is more a box on wheels than a smartphone on wheels today ... we want the car to be alive, awake [and] aware," Dreher said.  

Jerome Andre with EV Builder's Guide magazine sees potential as well, and said that the younger incoming generation provides an avenue for EV truck users. He said that retrofitted and modified EVs are somewhat of a "global phenomenon", so the path for EV trucks could be similar.  

Tim Cachelin with Legacy EV promoted the idea of education, especially as it could relate to these trucks. Electric vehicles require a different approach than your typical repair. Legacy EV wants to make that kind of information more widely available, which harkens back to the aforementioned Roadshow component that they will introduce this March.  

The repair approach is something that Chris Salvo of the Electrified Garage is very familiar with. The Electrified Garage offers vehicle repair services for EVs in three locations. Salvo noted some challenges with EV repair can include cabin filter maintenance and he relayed the importance of AC maintenance in EVs as well, considering that they help cool the battery. With large trucks, this could be an especially crucial component.  

Overall, the panel discussed EV opportunity at a high level. The overall message was that there is indeed a future that electric trucks can play a role in, and it will involve many segments of the industry playing a role. 

The 2022 SEMA Show took place over the first week of November.

About the Author

Hanna Bubser | Editor

Hanna Bubser is the editor of National Oil and Lube News and has been writing about the automotive aftermarket since 2022. She has a bachelor's degree in English from Hamline University in St. Paul, Minnesota. As a teenager, she drove a green 1996 Jeep Cherokee that was previously used as a forest service vehicle. Currently, she drives a 2019 Subaru Impreza. She's an avid bumper sticker collector and loves adorning her vehicle with brightly-colored conversation starters.