LAS VEGAS - SEMA is as interesting a show for new-car dealers as any auto show. Not only can retailers get an idea of what's coming from the automakers but they can get ideas on what accessories are available to make the new models more profitable.
Vehicles revealed at SEMA are usually equipped with the latest and greatest accessories, most of which are currently available or will be soon.
This year, there were a number of introductions by manufacturers in every vehicle segment, with many new bells and whistles.
General Motors had so many cars and trucks to show that it had to rotate them in and out of its allotted exhibit space.
Taking up the most space was the new medium-duty commercial truck from Chevrolet. The Bruin Fleet-Side is the biggest crew cab GM has ever built, with a 6600 V8 Duramax Turbo-Diesel motor and an eight-foot-wide bed.
"You could practically drive a Chevy Tracker into the bed of this truck," says John Middlebrook, vice president in charge of GM's brands. "Bruin demonstrates that Chevy is committed to pushing the envelope to satisfy the needs of truck buyers in all segments."
Also from GM is the Buick Regal GNX, which features a 300-horse supercharged V-6, and the Buick Park Avenue Ultra VIP, which offers a blend of classic American sedan with an athletic flavor.
Other GM entries at SEMA: the redesigned 2002 Cadillac Escalade, multiple SUV and pickup concepts and jazzed up versions of Oldsmobile's Intrigue and Pontiac's Bonneville.
DaimlerChrysler brought a lineup of PT Cruisers that had been customized almost beyond recognition. One was done with the help of retro-rocker Brian Setzer. Another was reconfigured to tow a motorcycle, and two others re-done to resemble a police paddy wagon and an ambulance.
In addition to the PT Cruisers, DaimlerChrysler displayed a Gran Turismo version of the Chrysler 300M, an off-road version of the Dodge Ram pickup designed to rescue off-roaders who have gone too far off road, and a hot-rod variation of the Dodge Stratus called "StatusFear."
Ford's massive exhibit featured the monstrous 2001 SVT F-150 Lightning. The lightening has a 380-horsepower V8 Triton powerplant that moves the vehicle from 0-60 in 5.8 seconds.
The Fort team also showed an Urban Explorer, for city adventures; an Escape outfitted for the outdoor types and a Focus called "Flexus" that among other features has a ramp that folds down from the rear door.
Mazda chimed in with a Protege equipped with a Kenwood MP3 audio system and a supercharged Tribute MM SUV concept.