SEMA Says: Aftermarket Healthy, Truck Bed Covers Ripe with Opportunity

They say you can’t have it all, but we beg to differ. The light-duty truck market proves that drivers can perform, tow, haul, and cart an entire family in style and comfort—all while appealing to Big Brother’s regulatory demands. And as the demand for larger and more capable vehicles continues to grow, so does the desire for accompanying parts and accessories. One segment that shows no signs of slowing down? Truck bed covers.

Pickups Picking Up Steam

Recently, the Bureau of Economic Analysis released data showing that light-duty trucks are now outselling traditional passenger cars 2:1. The rising demand of crossovers and SUVs inflate that number, but pickups are still holding strong. In fact, of the top 20 best-selling vehicles in America through the first half of 2018, Kelley Blue Book and Business Insider reported the top three spots were held by classic haulers—the RAM 1500, Chevy Silverado, and indomitable Ford F-Series.

As it relates to the aftermarket, 2018 SEMA Market Research indicates that pickup upgrades are the largest sector of the nearly $43 billion specialty equipment industry, accounting for 29% of total retail dollars. Of that number, truck bed liners and bed accessories account for more than $700 million in sales, with truck bed covers projected to eclipse the $500 million mark.

Truck Bed Covers Continue to Innovate

As manufacturers compete for buying power, the quality, features, and benefits of such products continue to improve. Stephen Tosh, a Keystone sales associate based out of Exeter, PA, and Ryan Osborne, Product Manager at TrailFX, agree that durability, versatility, and price are a triple threat during the shopping process.

“That’s what we had in mind when we developed the new TrailFX Helix retractable cover. It features a resilient aluminum construction and scratch resistant, matte-black finish. There is a spring-loaded aluminum canister for protection, a convenient tether to open and close the cover from the tailgate, and intermittent locking positions for hauling flexibility,” he said.

In comparison, Roll-N-Lock launched its E-Series cover at SEMA last year, which they market as the ultimate choice in convenience and security. “The E-series tonneau covers were put through a year of field tests, real-world applications, and inspections to ensure the highest level of quality, versatility, and craftsmanship. We’re confident that they’ll outlast and outperform all other tonneau covers currently on the market,” the company said.

Tosh added that the TruXedo Lo Pro and TruXport, Extang Trifecta and Solid Fold, as well as BAKFlip MX4 continue to be big sellers, with the latter featuring heavy-duty aluminum matte finish panels that offer superior UV and scratch resistance and an enhanced premium density foam core.

According to the BAK Industries website, the MX4 has “upgraded latch housing components, and an all-new integrated tailgate seal that allows the tailgate to close with the cover up or down. Designed to perform in the most extreme conditions. The MX4’s resilient infrastructure is designed for everyday use, with upgraded components that provide enhanced resistance to the elements without compromising its sleek, low-profile look and feel. The MX4’s solid and robust design is flush mount and backed by an extended 3-year warranty.”

Today’s Truck Bed Covers Are More Versatile Than Ever

As versatility among lifestyles becomes increasingly important, products like the Undercover RidgeLander rise in popularity. For example, the built-in perimeter track system on the top of the bed cover lets outdoor enthusiasts customize with a variety of configurations.

“Each RidgeLander comes standard with the RidgeLander bed cover, four Quick Mount Legs, two Vortex Bars, and the Tango Track System. With over 35 RidgeLander Approved Rhino Rack accessories, the possibilities are endless. The RidgeLander will work with most T-slot accessories from Rhino Rack, Yakima, and many more. Roof Top Tents can also be used with the RidgeLander with the support of a third crossbar for weight distribution purposes. The RidgeLander comes equipped with a single point locking system, built-in multifaceted weather seals to help keep the elements out of the truck bed, and is backed by a 3-year warranty,” said Undercover.

Truck Bed Covers Even Go Beyond Trucks

The team at Extang has a history of innovation as well. Its all-new Solid Fold 2.0 UTV Edition earned the title of “Best New Innovation Product” from the Custom Automotive Network. Back in February, Erishun Garrett of Truck Hero told The Engine Block, “The UTV market is large. However, there is not a variety of tonneau cover options available for consumers with UTVs. The Solid Fold UTV edition not only meets consumer needs, but also is designed to offer cargo functionality that surpasses the competition.” Store valuables safely under cover and still utilize gear transport on top—a win-win!

Even though the aftermarket innovation and numbers are impressive, a large portion of pickup trucks on the road remain naked in bed protection. Retailers, restylers, and professional upfitters must keep a few important details in mind when it comes to selling truck bed covers. To capitalize on the sales opportunity, first and foremost understand how the pickup is being used. And second, “Know your region, know your customer, and know his price point so the showroom floor displays reflect the right product selection … inventory that you can get next day from a partner like Keystone. Log into e-Keystone to view current inventory, acquisition cost, and suggested retail for every truck bed manufacturer and product on the shelves!

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