|Robert Barry looks into what’s hot and what’s not in the world of vehicle accessories and performance parts just in time for the Christmas season.
The humble window tint is still one vehicle accessory that is hugely popular in the New Zealand market according to Peter Griffiths from automotive product wholesaler Griffiths Equipment.
In Peter’s opinion the current health of the accessories market is largely driven by customers replacing old accessories with new which is largely indicative of the people holding onto to their vehicles for longer periods rather than replacing them.
The current demand for window tints continues unabated as do many of the functional and fashionable items sold to resellers and workshops by Griffiths Equipment.
Peter says the company sells tints in three percentage grades, thirty five percent tints which are legal on all passenger and light commercial vehicles excluding the windscreen, and 15 percent tint and five percent tint which are legal for delivery vans and four-wheel-drive applications on all glass areas, again with the exception of the windscreen.
“We find there is as much demand for window tints as a fashion item for people wanting the “darker look” for their car as well as the goods vehicle market that want the privacy and security of darker tinted windows,” says Peter Griffiths.
Personalisation of a vehicle still sees a high demand for seat covers and matching floor mats, which Peter says is both a result of function and fashion. In Peter’s opinion some people want to protect the vehicles upholstery from wear and tear, some wish to hide worn and torn upholstery and some simply want to give the vehicle a more personal touch by adding their choice of items.
Air fresheners, steering wheel covers, windscreen and individual window sunshades are the most popular items sold to resellers as well as windscreen wiper blades.
“We have the stock standard black wiper refills,” says Peter. “But also high performance silicon wipers in clear, black, grey, blue and red and soon we will introduce a white silicon wiper to the market.
Replacement steering wheels are also another popular cosmetic enhancement according to Peter Griffiths as are pedal pads and gear knobs.
“We’ve recently introduced a drift-style suede steering wheel which has proved enormously popular amongst the performance enthusiasts,” says Peter.
But the biggest news from Griffiths Equipment is its recent announcement regarding the acquisition of its exclusive distribution of the well regarded Italian MOMO brand of aftermarket accessories that includes seat covers and mats, steering wheels, gear knobs, pedal pads, fireproof clothing, and bucket seats.
Repco category manager Pritesh Danji says that dress up accessories such as steering wheels, replacement seats and gear knobs are still very popular items but he has noticed that although the market has improved since the recession customers are still very price conscious and are not always willing to pay top dollar for well known brands.
“People want good quality items and the latest in accessories but they won’t necessarily buy branded product, but they still want the quick and easily fitted “go faster” bits like pod filters,”says Pritesh.
“We have noticed that the bulk of our audio head unit sales are now in the $99 to $249 bracket, but the trend in navigation units sees more sales of the larger 4.3 and 4.7 inch screens because people like the legibility of a bigger screen.
“Bluetooth equipped navigation units are also proving to be a big seller as people like the two in one capability for the affordable price tag.”
OEM vehicle accessories and performance parts
Globally the demand for quality accessory and performance parts has not gone unnoticed by the OEM, and brands such as, TRD (Toyota Racing Development) NISMO (Nissan Motorsport), Mopar (Chrysler Jeep), AMG (now owned by Mercedes-Benz) and M-Sport (BMW) all offer cosmetic and performance parts for owners to improve their cars look as well as performance.
Team leader of conversions and accessories at Toyota New Zealand Sven Tulicic says that the TRD (Toyota Racing Development) range of parts, accessories and motorsport products is huge in the Japan domestic market for which they are developed.