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Both Ford and Honda have been a staple of the Specialty Equipment Marketing Association known as SEMA, held every year in November in Las Vegas. Especially Ford, with prominent displays inside, and track set up in the Las Vegas Convention Center parking lot outside, has dominated OEM participation. But both Ford and Honda have confirmed neither will participate in this year’s 2022 SEMA Show. 

It is a gut punch for the thriving association, which supports the automotive aftermarket in numerous ways. Ford and Honda’s vehicles go hand in hand with aftermarket participation. Honda is arguably the number one tuner brand, with Ford synonymous with hot rods going back before WWII. It all just seems like such a perfect fit to promote these iconic brands to the aftermarket and enthusiasts alike. 

Why won’t Ford be attending the SEMA Show?

Ford at SEMA
Modified Mustang in the Ford display at the SEMA Show | Getty

In a statement, SEMA said, “Due to a change in corporate strategy, Ford and Honda will not be displayed at the 2022 SEMA Show. We appreciate their long-time support, and while many of us are going to miss their participation at this year’s show, we are excited to see the show take on a new look in Central Hall. SEMA will continue to collaborate with both Ford and Honda on various SEMA programs, such as Tech Transfer and Measuring Sessions in 2022 and beyond.”

And from Ford, “We are refining our approach to the annual SEMA Show to better reach and highlight how customers can personalize their Ford vehicles today and tomorrow. Our new approach showcases our winning portfolio of Cars, Trucks, and SUVs and the comprehensive catalog of Ford Performance Parts and Accessories that customers can purchase online or from their local Ford dealer. Ford will still have a presence at SEMA, but instead of our traditional display, we look forward to showcasing our winning portfolio of vehicles in select displays at the show and digitally online. We will share more details closer to SEMA.”

Are other OEMs dropping out of the SEMA Show?

Honda at SEMA
Honda S2000 in the Honda display at SEMA | Getty

Many OEMs will still attend the show, including Stellantis and Toyota. And one new automaker will be added with Volkswagen displaying for the first time. SEMA has not said if another OEM will take over the driving events and drifting in the Convention parking lot. 

Ford at SEMA
A Ford F650 Truck outside of the SEMA Show | Getty

We can’t imagine Ford or Honda shifting marketing emphasis away from the tuner and customization world. Especially puzzling is that Ford has really pushed aftermarket participation for the Bronco. Also, it is clearly doing a similar push for the Ranger and Maverick. 

Honda’s Acura division is also shifting its market emphasis more toward performance. So the show would be the perfect place to increase the sizzle for both manufacturers. But in general, automakers are relying more on closed events for the media to promote product. The traditional auto show model or bigger mega shows like SEMA might see their days numbered. And Tesla is proving that in its case, no marketing is necessary.