This is How Aftermarket Parts Are Developed for Your Toyota
When SEMA isn’t putting on the world’s biggest automotive show, they act as a liaison between OEMs and the aftermarket parts industry.
Have you ever wondered how an interesting, new car can come out and, seemingly, immediately have a healthy aftermarket parts supply? How is that possible, the car just came out, after all.
It turns out that SEMA, in fact, is one of the groups responsible for this phenomenon. And, as the editor of Scion Life, SEMA invited me into their world during a recent “measuring session,” an event where aftermarket parts suppliers literally come and measure things on a new car.
While the SEMA show takes place in Las Vegas, surrounded by glitz and glamor, SEMA’s actual headquarters, dubbed the “SEMA Garage,” is located in a nondescript business park in Orange County, California.
While the SEMA Garage facade isn’t much to talk about, as soon as the door are pulled open, it all makes sense. This modified 2019 Toyota Corolla was parked in the foyer. Behind it, there was much activity and buzz, as people shuffled around. After checking in with the SEMA team, I was given free reign to roam around and check out the action.
Unsurprisingly, the SEMA Garage has garages, two of them, in fact, attached to their building. In the left garage were several engineers measuring braking components on a 2019 Toyota Corolla XSE Hatchback.
This team identified themselves to me as being from Stoptech. They had already removed the stock brake parts, and were measuring the wheel hubs to see what, if any, existing braking components from their line-up could be used for baseline testing on a new big brake kit. The team took a few minutes from their day to chat with me about my experiences with the Stoptech ST60 big brake kit.
To the right of the blue hatchback was a brand new 2020 Toyota Corolla sedan. It was also partially disassembled, awaiting measurements for braking components.
ALSO SEE: 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback Review: A Fun Corolla
Moving over to the second garage, the scene had changed entirely. Folding tables had been laid out, and they were covered with OEM Corolla parts.
Pictured is the full exhaust system, from the manifold-back; axles; differential; swaybars; struts; shocks; springs; hubs; brakes; clutch, flywheel and control arms from a 2019 Corolla hatchback.
These are all common areas for upgrades, so they were sitting free from the car, for easy measurements. Two employees from Tein suspension were in attendance during my visit, taking detailed notes on the front springs and factory top hats, presumably to develop lowering springs.
In addition to performance parts, aesthetic and interior upgrades were also being developed during my visit to the SEMA garage. Interior panels were being removed, leatherbound or being prepared for fancy alcantara treatment. As someone who is a decent wrench when it comes to hardware, it’s impressive seeing this side of the aftermarket industry.
Eventually, there was a mass exodus, as people began to file out of the building. This lunch break seemed to be the perfect time to call it a day, so I took my leave, as well.
Many of the tuners I spoke to had been there for hours, most working nonstop, as they gathered initial measurements and developed a strategy around which parts they would be building. The next step for these companies is head back to their respective headquarters and build prototype parts off these measurements. From there, its on to road testing and fine-tuning the end user experience.