Leaving the Great White North to Make It Big at Sema

The biggest auto show of the year just might be the one with the fewest new car reveals. And the one with the fewest cars that sit the way they rolled off the dealer's showroom. The SEMA show is the annual trade show for the aftermarket companies of the world. There are more than 11,000 booths with over 2,300 vendors from around the world – everything from a rack to store your car on top of your truck to stickers to put on your tires.

In all the chaos that is the Las Vegas Convention Center during SEMA week, it's sometimes difficult to get noticed. But a handful of Canadian designers and manufacturers make the trek to show off their wares, trying to grab distributor or shop eyes in a sea of products. Well, we managed to find some of these unique creations. So here are some of the coolest products from Canadian companies at SEMA 2018.

Camping is in tents; also in trucks

Car tents, or in this case truck tents sometimes get a bad rap. It's not their fault that the most prominent ones have been affixed to what we'll be nice and call controversially styled vehicles, like the Pontiac Aztek's factory offering.

St. Catharines, ON-based Napier Outdoors calls itself the largest seller of truck and SUV tents in the world. They offer up tents for pickup beds, SUV hatches, and even to go onto the back of your minivan. The tents offer sleeping spaces for up to six adults.

New this year, their Backroadz truck tent gets new storm flaps to keep the weather out and new colours to make it look better while it's doing it. They're available through several automakers, camping supply stores, online retailers, and big-box stores.

Sliding into cargo organization

Pick-up beds are great for just throwing everything in. The problem there is that once something is on the bottom, you need to move everything else to find it. And everything, even your expensive and nice things, are exposed to the elements and prying eyes. What if you want to store your tools but also haul a load of topsoil? And keep those tools safe and dry?

CargoEase, based in Hagersville, ON, offers up a solution: pullout truck slides. They offer sliding platforms that install in the bed of just about any truck. Pull out the drawer and that hard to reach item from the front of the bed is now in arm's reach.

Their latest is the new Mighty Locker. In addition to the sliding platform, these sliders have drawers. The composite and aluminum sliding storage drawers are watertight, can support up to 1,134 kg loaded on the top of them, and are locking. The company offers up accessories like ramps to help load in whatever it is you want on top of your toolbox. They make applications for vans as well as trucks.

CargoEase products are available direct or from major truck accessory dealers.

A little more boost for your turbo-diesel

Next up, some Canadian performance parts. BD Diesel Performance, based in Abbotsford BC, serves up parts for big diesel pickups. Starting out as a fuel-injection service center, BD's claim to fame is introducing the exhaust brake to the diesel pickup.

Now, the company builds turbocharger kits for trucks, along with intake and exhaust manifolds as well as transmission modifications. These aren't just kits cobbled together from parts from other companies, BD does all their machining in-house and builds its own turbos.

New this year is the Iron Horn turbo kit for the 2007 and up Ram Cummins 6.7L diesel. BD says it offers up to 700 crank horsepower thanks to bigger and better-flowing turbos and a new exhaust manifold. Transmission line pressure controllers help keep that power flowing to the wheels.

On the mat

Truck bed spray liners do a great job of protecting your paint from the stuff that goes in the back of trucks. But if you're tossing in heavy items, you can still end up with some big dents. Dents that could be expensive to repair with your new aluminum bed. The damage could be even more expensive with a new carbon-fibre bed.

BC-based North West Rubber has a solution. The company started out making horse mats. With a thousand-kilo horse stomping up and down on them, the mats should be pretty durable. Now the company has branched out into mats for truck beds. The mats are 13 mm thick and are made from recycled tires that can be recycled again when you're done with them. So they're strong and green. The Black Armour mats come in a variety of sizes, pre-scored underneath so that you can make the final modifications to let them fit your bed. The mats can cushion the impact of tools and bricks and keep your stuff in place in turns. They're available from major truck accessory retailers.

Recording progress

In the world of dashcams, it can be difficult to stand out. Richmond Hill, ON's RSC Labs offers up some cool features. Like the Nano camera that sacrifices a screen for an app so it can be half the size of a credit card – in length and width, that is, it's not quite that thin. Instead of a battery, it uses a long-life capacitor. And the Sony Exmor sensor helps to offer better picture in low- and no-light conditions. They also offer up larger models that offer Advanced Driver Assistance Systems. That means in-camera lane guidance and collision warnings.

Warm up your morning wipe

The coolest piece of new tech I saw at the show might also be the hottest. Heated windshield wiper blades. That's right, heated wipers. No more parking your wipers halfway up the glass then leaving them dangling in mid-air.

Manitoba-based Heatmax Wiper Blades have a heating element that runs inside the blade strip. They'll warm up to 74°C using an automatic temperature switch that turns them on when it gets cold (and when the power is on). The kit requires a bit of electrical installation, but shouldn't take more than an hour or two for anyone with DIY electrical experience, or less for a pro, as the company suggests. The blades can be replaced separately from the heating element and arm, so you don't need to toss the whole thing when the silicone blade gets worn.

Stick on, dents gone?

Sherwood Innovations, based in Toronto, makes side mouldings and dash kits. Now not everybody is a fan of stick-on bodyside mouldings, but if you park in a city center or tight garage, they can be the difference between a clean door and a big ding. New this year, Sherwood is offering chrome- and carbon-fibre-look mouldings, something the company says is an industry exclusive.

If you want to change up your trim inside too, the company has a wide range of dashboard and door trim kits. They're a good way to make your low-trim car look a little more high-end, or just make your vehicle more custom to the way you want it.

Louvraging your image

Along those same custom-look lines is Willpak Industries, based in Oakville, ON. They make vent scoops and louvres. You might think that the louvred look was going out of style, but the company says that business is booming. So much so that their Ontario plant is looking at a six-week back order. While the aluminum louvres are popular with classic muscle cars, they offer parts for modern muscle cars and sedans too. If the more vintage-looking aluminum isn't your style, the company has lighter ABS plastic pieces. They can be ordered unpainted, or in factory-match paint colours, and are available through major auto accessory chains.

Have a seat

FIA offers up custom seat covers. These aren't models designed to fit multiple vehicles, they're all made specifically for every application. While they do offer up an improved appearance over many stock seat covers, these heavy fabric and neoprene covers are designed with utility in mind as much as style. The company says that their covers are aimed at users who use their car or truck for work. Work and fleet vehicles see more driver entry and exit than other vehicles, and that can wear out factory covers in a matter of months. FIA's covers are meant to protect that factory seat, leaving it looking fresh for much longer and helping to keep it more comfortable.

What's left in the cupboard?

Cabinets by Hayley is based in Calgary, and build garage cabinets. With integrated workbenches, retracting TV stands, power outlets, and new for this year built-in air and power line reels, these are some impressive cabinets. They feel strong enough for shop use but are also aimed at high-end consumer garages. If you want to store heavy items, like car parts and expensive tools, you've probably already learned that pressboard and glue don't really cut it. Cabinets built from metal will hold up.

The company originally started building uninterruptible power supplies for heavy-duty use, but the quality of the cabinets the supplies lived in developed a demand that eclipsed the power supplies. The cabinets are sold direct and through dealers across Canada.

Accessories, eh? 11/6/2018 8:30:00 AM