Back in the old days, aftermarkets were seen to be catered only for Japan Domestic Models (JDM) Performance cars. As the European scene started to grow worldwide, so did the aftermarket trend. Slowly but surely, aftermarket products will be more accessible to many makes and models and many people start to wonder, why the need for aftermarkets?
Aftermarkets can be about performance, aesthetics or even functionality and convenience. These are all subject to the drivers’ taste and preference and depending on your country of residence, there might be a limit or threshold to how much you can modify your car for it to be legal to drive. In the recent years, we have seen a decrease in the number of JDM Performance cars on the road which means directly, there are relatively lesser aftermarket parts that are available as well since there are no new make/ model(s). Fortunately, there are more and more people who appreciate aftermarkets, including people that drive non-performance cars and many a times, they do an amazing job to do up their car to make it strikingly different than the stock car.
In Singapore, we have a bulk of models that have proliferated namely the Honda Vezel, Fit, Jazz, Civic, Shuttle, Freed and the Toyota C-HR, Toyota Sienta and Toyota Vios,etc. We might better know these cars as the term “Mass Market Cars”. Interestingly, these owners seek to differentiate themselves from their fellow counterparts who own the same car by modifying the exterior look, sound and interior trims of the vehicle. Body kits are the most obvious difference due to the exterior appeal, and there is an increasing number of people that look to get replica body kits because they are much more affordable and people can hardly see the difference from a distance. Rims have always been a favorite to modify and upgrade to bigger sized sports rims, forged rims and more as well. Not forgetting Brake Calipers that complements your choice of wheels. More and more, you see these Mass Market Cars changing these few things to enhance the overall aesthetic for the car and it is proof that Aftermarkets have indeed penetrated the mass market.
Then come Exhausts… Unlike body kits, wheels, and brakes, LTA requires certification for exhausts and the whole reason for this, is because of noise pollution and emission levels. This brings us to different ball game because it will not be as easy for everyone to get approved exhausts because there might not be an applicable model for your car make and model. In fact, getting an exhaust approval is not that easy to get because of all the time and necessary paperwork that has to be done from both the vehicle parts store and LTA’s side. Ultimately, the aftermarket part manufacturer plays an important role to make sure this works because they need to be agreeable to produce and export these parts as soon as possible once orders have been placed after the LTA sanctions the exhaust approval. Finding a reputable aftermarket part manufacturer is essential as well due to the quality of the exhausts. Many times have weldings cracked due to the poor quality of the product or poor workmanship from the manufacturers. Therefore, exhausts is also another item that people have turned to to differentiate their ride from others in terms of looks and definitely the sound. Many owners of the Mass Market Cars have been sourcing for aftermarket exhausts to get that unique exhaust sound as well. Unfortunately, not every make and model has an LTA-approved exhaust.
Interior upgrades will be pretty interesting especially with Carplay and AndroidAuto from Apple and Google respectively. Many headunit systems and sound systems have been upgraded as well to make the car functions more accessible and also for viewing/listening pleasure. Alot of car accessories shops have also started bringing in heads up display on your dashboard, or also OBD plug ins to monitor your car’s health (battery, oil temperature, etc.) Ultimately, this has revolutionized the driver’s seat to become somewhat of a control station; having so many more added capabilities to enhance the driver’s experience in the cockpit. These days, we have Grab & Gojek for private-hire usage and the drivers normally have so many gadgets and tools to assist them in their daily driving. The fact that most private-hire cars are also mass market also reinforces the statement that Aftermarket Parts have become ubiquitous in such vehicles.
The Aftermarkets Scene is expanding increasingly, especially with electronics and technology growing in all facets of the trade. And most importantly, car owners will always be looking for the next new thing for their car, mass market or not. When that comes, we all have to be ready to accept and adapt to new trends, taste and preferences of the market.