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This week we will explore mass customization in automobiles. We spoke before about how we believe that 3D customization in cars will change how they are made and sold. Car personalization is already a significant industry.
A Custom Porsche showcased at the SEMA show.
By and large the ‘aftermarket’ is responsible for much of the individualized interior and exterior flourishes on cars. Independent garages and manufacturers can tune or add body kits to cars to anyone’s liking. Chips can alter how engines work while sound systems and interiors can be as unique as you are.
Personalized cars – from a passionate few to mainstream
Uncommon colors, flashy rims and extra spoilers are de rigeur. Across the board car customization is often something practiced by a passionate few. Subcultures across the world focus on making their cars stand out. Over the past years however the immensely popular Fast and the Furious franchise, rap videos and popular tv shows such as Pimp My Ride have brought the idea of car customization more into the mainstream.
Increasingly cars such as this unique Kia are sponsored or paid for entirely by the OEMs.
The SEMA show the annual mecca of aftermarket suppliers and installers has over 60,000 attendees, and the aftermarket may be a $318 Billion industry. It is notable that over the last few years car companies have intensified their engagement with the aftermarket. At SEMA one can see much more involvement by large companies such as Ford and GM. Taken together does this mean that significant changes are afoot for the aftermarket? Will car companies seek to dominate this large fragmented market? Will it grow through popular exposure?
This Lexus RC F GT3 is a tuned and race prepared version of the Lexus RC F. Presented by Lexus with wheels by noted car customizer supplier BBS.
Mercedes’ AMG division and BMW’s M are already in essence competing with customers by offering high power high trim versions of existing models. Bentley Mulliner will let you have a bespoke version of your Bentley including this Bentayga for falconers that we covered earlier.
BMW showcases a customized BMW from a previous age. Their M division has been offering race prepped and upgraded versions of many of their cars for decades.
The list of options and models you can choose from in regular cars is also expanding. Online car configurator tools let you select what you want. 3DTuning’s car configurator tool lets you select from hundreds of models and thousands of aftermarket parts.
This car configurator works for over 600 car models and has over 3,000,000 cars that have been tuned online. The most popular are the BMW 3, Toyota GT86 and S class.
American aftermarket wheel company Forgiato lets you select your car to see how its wheels will look on it.
Could these tools be expanded through offering more customized options however? Could we see a future where you can design unique parts from the home? We can clearly see online 3D customization tools expanding for both selecting your car and customizing it afterwards. We also see badges such as AMG encroaching on the aftermarket’s territory. Given the vastness of the car aftermarket we would expect that the large car companies would further engage with it and try to take it over. In the coming years we would expect expanded online configurators that allow for more personal touches in cars.