Will the high performance industry adapt quickly enough to stay profitable while gas prices skyrocket? These are trying times for the auto makers, trying to shift practically their entire output to small high mileage cars. Pickups, SUVs and anything with low mileage numbers, performance cars included, are moving very slowly while consumers rush to tiny little econoboxes and hybrids. The secondary impact of this rapidly shifting auto world is the changing market for high performance engines and parts. If your business relies on the demand for 500 cubic inch crate engines, you’ll need to widen your horizons, fast.
Not long ago, rising gas prices were met with smaller engines and a big block specialist could simply transfer his work to high output 4 cylinder engines while he waited for the prices to come back down. That route still exists but gas prices, though they may drop in the future, may go down slowly and not all that far. The shift may signal the need to retool the performance industry toward a future of new technology.
If the auto industry can teach the aftermarket anything it’s the danger of waiting too long before recognizing the signs of a real shift in demand. Sure, turbos and nitrous and other old school standbys will work for a while, but, the companies that develop workable high performance hybrid systems or electric motor replacements for that 10 mpg engine or even something else we can’t think of at the moment, will have a leg up on those other companies waiting to see what the automakers do. A lot of individuals and businesses are already moving in this direction but the names are all new, it’s not the same guys you recognize as you flip through the pages of Hot Rod.
There will always be a high performance industry, as soon as you have 2 of anything, you’ll pretty quickly have a race, but what will the new evolving industry look like? Who will survive and prosper? Who will cling to the old ways and fade away? This is going to get interesting.