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 the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA). At its sixth International Auto Salon, SEMA announced that 2002 retail sales of accessories and other products for compact vehicles were $2.367 billion U.S. in the United States, an astounding growth rate of 55.9%. 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 (U.S.). 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%; 1999, 72.6%; 2000, 58.7%; and 2001, 26.5% (the flatter growth curve may be attributed to 9/11 shock within the U.S.). 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%). New vehicle sales in this consumer segment accounted for 24.7% of the vehicle market, and 12.6% 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).