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A Truck accessory is an aftermarket part that is used to enhance the style or function of the original OEM pickup truck. Truck accessories are differentiated from other parts, typically referred to as "hard parts" or "cores" that include distributors, water pumps, radiators and the like. Some of the more popular accessories for light-duty trucks include tubular products such as nerf bars, grille guards, tonneau covers, truck tool boxes, autocarts, hard top and bed extenders.
Truck accessories to change the look of the vehicles did not become popular until the 1990s. Products in this industry include performance and racing components, cosmetic and functional accessories, wheels and tires, mobile electronics, safety products, restoration parts, handling equipment, drivetrain parts, grille guards, bumper replacements, steps, nerf bars and more. Previously, domestic U.S. manufacturers including General Motors, Ford Motor Company, Chrysler, and American Motors considered their light-duty trucks (Chevrolet, Ford, Dodge, and Jeep) as work vehicles and often did little to accommodate appearance accessories. Aftermarket suppliers were often focused on specialty work-enhancing accessories such as snowplows, spreaders, and lift gates.
However, the market segments expanded as manufacturers offered a wide variety of pick-up truck types and sizes. With the dawn of the extended cab, trucks began taking on a more urban appeal and were being purchased for their style as well as their utility. This new audience of truck owner began to demand more than a simple tool box to adorn their trucks. They began developing an appetite for accessories that would complement the look of their truck and manufacturers began to accommodate their desires with products like billet grilles, chrome fender trim, nerf bars and hood deflectors. In addition, truck manufacturers began collaborating with and designing their vehicles to easily accommodate these accessories with bolt-on ease.
There are numerous manufactures of accessories. The primary trade association that represents truck accessory manufacturers is SEMA (Specialty Equipment Market Association). The largest of the SEMA events is held annually in late October or early November in Las Vegas, Nevada in conjunction with the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Week. As part of this event, SEMA and other automotive aftermarket trade groups make-up one of the single largest events on the Las Vegas calendar.