The compact performance segment within the automotive specialty equipment market may be all about accessories and products for smaller-sized cars and vehicles, but the segment itself burst its "compact" seams in 2002, according to SEMA, the Specialty Equipment Market Association. At its sixth International Auto Salon, SEMA announced that 2002 retail sales of accessories and other products for compact vehicles were $2.367 billion in the United States, a growth rate of 55.9 percent. SEMA has tracked sales in this new niche of products for cars and trucks since 1997. Just six years ago, sales stood at $295 million. The association says the market niche has experienced unusually high-growth rates consistently since SEMA began tracking this portion of the market for automotive accessories and products. In 1998, the growth rate was 48.5 percent; 1999, 72.6 percent; 2000, 58.7 percent; and 2001, 26.5 percent (the flatter growth curve may be attributed to 9/11 shock within the country). SEMA Vice President of Research Jim Spoonhower said, "This market is fueled by the growing affection which younger drivers have for their vehicles. They can tune and tweak them, enhance their appearance, add mobile electronics systems, and personalize them to suit their lifestyle and sense of fashion." SEMA's research in 2002 showed that five of every eight compact performance enthusiasts purchased their vehicle used (62.7 percent). New vehicle sales in this consumer segment accounted for 24.7 percent of the vehicle market, and 12.6 percent reported receiving their compact cars as a gift. The compact performance market consists of three major types of small car modification -- exterior or appearance, engine, and interior (audio/electronic products, seating, and gauges). A recap of SEMA's research about this market segment as it was presented at the opening of SEMA's International Auto Salon 2003 (IAS), a trade and consumer show for the compact performance market, is available at SEMA's International Auto Salon 2003 was held at the Los Angeles Convention Center. The industry and media attended the show Friday and Saturday morning. Consumer hours were Saturday afternoon and evening, and Sunday. More information is available at SEMA represents the $27 billion specialty automotive industry. Founded in 1963, the trade association has more than 4,500 member companies. It is a source of research data, trends and market growth information for automakers and the specialty auto products industry. The industry provides appearance, performance, comfort, convenience and technology products for passenger cars, minivans, trucks, SUVs and recreational vehicles. For more information, contact SEMA at 1575 S. Valley Vista Dr., Diamond Bar, CA, 91765-3914; call 909/396-0289; or visit or