LAS VEGAS—Aftermarket wheel manufacturers, importers and distributors have banded together under the umbrella of the Specialty Equipment Market Association to address industry standards and safety practices.
The group, the SEMA/Wheel Industry Council (WIC), already has held liaison meetings with the Tire Association of North America (TANA) about cooperating on drafting common wheel handling and mounting safety procedures, said Larry Anderson, chairman of the council and president of Wheeltech International Corp., a manufacturers representative in Ontario, Calif.
The council held its first exploratory meetings three years ago, Mr. Anderson said, and since then has revamped its direction, opening membership to distributors, retailers, importers etc. As a result, the council recently grew by 15 members—to 48 total—during the week of the SEMA Show/International Tire Expo in Las Vegas, with notables such as Heafner Tire Group and Sears Tire Group joining.
SEMA/WIC's first action will be to develop recommended minimum wheel testing procedures, incorporating principles from existing specifications by organizations like the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), SEMA Foundation Inc. etc., Mr. Anderson said.
The idea is to establish performance testing standards that the industry will honor, he added. Manufacturers that meet the standard will stamp an identifying mark—most likely an SAE identification—on their wheels.
Since the program is voluntary, Mr. Anderson said, enforcement has to come from distributors, which hopefully will make the ID part of their buying criteria.
During SEMA week, council executives also met with representatives of the Japan Automotive Wheel Association to discuss common goals, said Sheldon Miller, senior vice president of Excalibur Wheel Accessories and chairman-elect of the wheel council.
The second initiative is to create standard shop-floor wheel handling and mounting procedures, Mr. Anderson said. Ultimately, these procedures could be presented in poster form, for display in or near a shop's tire/wheel mounting area, or in letter or pamphlet form to be sent along with each wheel.
The wheel council hopes its meetings with TANA will lead to common mounting procedures that both groups can present as the "industry standard," Mr. Anderson said. TANA already has training certification programs in place covering tire service.
Thus far, the council has not attracted membership from the makers of tire-mounting equipment, he said, but these companies may be targeted later when the time comes to start disseminating the tire/wheel mounting procedures.
In drafting wheel-testing and wheel-mounting procedures, the specter of possible litigation played a role in the council's actions, Messrs. Anderson and Miller said.