And no, the future of cars is not boring. Not at all.
With a future that promises cars that’ll drive us to work, pick us up after dinner and park themselves, all while we check Facebook and chat on the phone, the future of cars seems convenient but boring, right?
But there is one key thing that cars can’t automate: A thrilling experience.
I was Kia’s guest at SEMA, the Specialty Equipment Manufacturer’s Association, an enormous convention featuring car parts, equipment, tools, gear and even cars, that is held annually in Las Vegas. We were front row for some of the best the custom details the auto industry had to show.
SEMA brings 100,000 people together, from auto designers, car parts manufacturers, mechanics, dealers and enthusiasts, for a week of seeing every possible part, modification and advancement in the auto world. It’s a gear head’s dream come true.
But not for me. I’m not that girl. I don’t even change a tire, much less ‘wrench’ or modify. I leave that to designers and mechanics.
Auto Brands Take a “Custom” Approach to Popular Models
I want to buy a car and drive it off the lot with all the dream features in place, while still being a unique statement about me and my discerning taste in cars and performance. What I don’t want is to spend time and money assembling that at a customization shop, suffering the added cost, a ding in the car’s value because it’s been customized and risk that the work might compromise other systems. Also, I don’t want to have to think of all that.
Luckily, auto makers like this idea too.
“Factory Custom” Is the New Bespoke
After seeing custom shops and parts manufacturers taking a new role in new cars, manufacturers decided to roll out models that make the most of both worlds: Standard elements with the opportunity to add a bit of customization. The end result is a custom-feeling car with a distinct look that is also designer-and-engineer-sanctioned, eliminating the risk of a custom job.
Kia, like a few other automakers, realize that some buyers want a car with distinct look and feel. Buyers can take their car to a place like West Coast Customs, which collaborated with Kia to create a custom look for the Stinger. Or, you can now have it customized by the dealer with parts designed and built by Kia; dealers who purchase the kit can do the work for you.
Why Factory Customization is Better than DIY
Two words: Resale value. Your resale value can take a hit if your car has been modified. But if the work was done by the manufacturer — or a recognized expert like West Coast Customs— your value can be enhanced.
If the size and enthusiasm of the SEMA show is any indication, this trend is expected to continue. In fact, look for manufactures to up their game in the aftermarket for not just performance packages like the Stinger’s, but for things like new interiors, revamped engines, new technology and refreshed body parts. Because if you love your car, why not refresh it rather than replace it?
But the Big Question: How Does This Car Drive?
That’s easy to answer: Awesome. Kia staged a drift experience at SEMA so attendees could hop in with a pro driver and spin around skid pad. If you haven’t ever had the chance to drift, in which the car slides around in circles in controlled skids and OF COURSE should only be done by a professional, I highly recommend it. It’s a blast.
We also had the opportunity to drive a short autocross course with a professional driver. This let me floor it and see how the Stinger responded, and also, get some good coaching.
I Persicoped my experience with professional race driver Kyle Mohan and pro drive instructor Randy Olson; I hope you’ll take a look!