- SEMA is the undisputed proving ground for the world’s premier aftermarket manufacturers, innovators, and car builders.
- A majority of Pit+Paddock’s proud partners shone brightly with a multitude of new products to showcase.
With so much focus spent on which cars impressed the masses, it’s often easy to forget that SEMA is, first and foremost, a trade show. Hiding in plain sight behind flashy cars, the industry’s innovators splay their latest and greatest products to a sea of enthusiasts like you and me. Indeed, while car coverage has become akin to fast food for virtual digestion, the products are refreshingly organic. Amidst the run-around, we had the opportunity to visit some of our favorite brands to chow down on their 2022 menus.
By utilizing aerospace technology, in-house engineering, and a library of knowledge that only three generations of track experience can build, Aeromotive has cemented itself as the expert in all things fuel-related. Its breakthroughs with variable-speed controlled pumps have made the demanding transition from street to track, especially for high-horsepower cars, a worry of the past. This year, Aeromotive has focused on creating factory drop-in pumps for some of the most popular or highly anticipated chassis, including the new GR86/BRZ. This part was so fresh that pieces of it were still 3D printed, so keep an eye out for the production version soon.
Since 1993, Hawk Performance has been providing brake solutions you can trust. By leveraging military and airline application technology, Hawk is able to keep trend — it continuously innovates by creating new pad shapes and compounds to suit ever-changing demands — whether that means superior rotor and pad wear, predictable modulation, initial bite characteristics, or low-dust operation. The Tesla model range has caught their attention in 2022, and new products for BMW’s latest G8X M3/M4 and F90 M5 platforms are on the horizon.
Companies like Turbosmart, who have been in the forced induction game since 1997, have dedicated their entire portfolio to adding control and finesse to engine snails. And what Turbosmart is doing has been getting noticed — its Pneumatic StraightGate50 took home SEMA’s coveted “Best Engineered New Product” award for 2022 — the company’s fifth consecutive trophy in four years. Unparalleled boost control, flow, and tuning capabilities are byproducts of this new PSG’s zero-offset wastegate. As more automakers transition to turbocharged engines, Turbosmart has also worked to develop electronic compact blow-off valve kits for more OE applications like the Ford F-150, Jeep JL, and BMW’s N20 and N55 engine lineup.
2022 marked CSF’s biggest year of product development ever, which is saying a lot given its rich, multi-generational history as “the cooling experts”. Indeed, the team at CSF’s enthusiasm, engineering prowess, and long-standing immersion in the car game have allowed them to take an unconventional yet immensely exciting approach to their newest releases; rather than just hone in on the new “it” car. 2022 was a mix of old and new for the brand, launching new products specifically for S54-swapped E36s, the 190E, R32 GT-R, and even the venerable Audi Quattro, alongside a full suite for the G8X M3/M4. A new dual-fluid cooler will pique off-road enthusiasts’ eyes as CSF continues to strengthen its overland catalog, while a unique manufacturing collaboration with PWR allowed it to push even its own limits for some of the world’s most coveted vehicles.
Whereas other suspension companies partition their brands rather abruptly to make decision-making easier for off-the-shelf customers, AST/MOTON enjoys a more symbiotic relationship between its branches. This overlap allows AST/MOTON to ensure its in-house team is building the very best solution for its intended user. Indeed, it is virtually the opposite of a “one size fits all” proposition, but the brand partnership believes that its more meticulous approach bears more fruit where it matters most. For example, the latest generation VW Golf boasts eight different variants to suit drivetrain and engine specs accordingly. New looking into 2023 is an HLS kit that, thanks to a clever design, offers 45mm of functional nose lift (~2x that of its competitors) and is even compatible with other aftermarket manufacturers’ equipment. As a nod to AST’s founder’s past, a new two-wheel-specific lineup will be something to look forward to as well.
Born to service the budding Sport Compact segment in 1997, Vibrant Performance has since diversified into a trusted name for professional fabrication components. Many of its new products going into 2023 have been improvements on already stellar offerings: its HD clamps now have a clever pinless design to save time and worry in real-time motorsport conditions, the company’s PTFE hoses now come crimped and pre-assembled to set lengths, and its catch cans with built-in baffling now come in three sizes (small, medium, and large). A new dual-mount catch can bracket is also available, should you need it. Ultimately, the best just got better, and I’ve been told that each improvement resulted from direct customer feedback. Kudos to Vibrant for giving us exactly what we asked for.
AEM PERFORMANCE ELECTRONICS
Aptly enough, AEM in AEM Performance Electronics stands for “Advanced Engine Management”. The company’s performance electronics division has been indistinguishable from the aftermarket scene since the beginning, but its presence at this year’s SEMA show has been far more electric — literally. Nestled into the budding electric powertrain section, AEM has been honed in on the EV conversion segment, where its Vehicle Control Units (VCUs) have been immensely popular. This system provides full control of the Large Drive Unit (LDU) for programming torque curves, torque limits, regenerative braking, accelerator pedal response, drive-mode switches, and much more. There is a new model in the works to replace the long-standing VCU200 — the predecessor aims to integrate even more features for more nuanced control — but we’re not sure whether it will slot in beneath or above the current VCU300. Since there is no standard issue inverter across manufacturers, it hasn’t been a straightforward process to roll out solutions for each new car, but we’re told that Ford Mach E support is allegedly on the horizon.
There is no shortage of things to look forward to from these heavy hitters we’re proud to call our partners. We want to thank the representatives from each brand for taking the time to chat about the new components they brought to SEMA, and we’re looking forward to what’s in store for 2023.