Troy Lee Designs Mazda6 from SEMA 2008 - Click above for a high-res image gallery

Participation at last year's SEMA show was notable for its absences, with the event's organizers struggling at the last minute to fill vacated floor space with companies that would have normally been shunned to the outer regions of the Las Vegas Convention Center. As the economic melt-down continues, last year's trend has extended from parts suppliers and mom-and-pop operations to big-name automakers.

Last year, Nissan formally announced that it would only attend one show per continent during its fiscal year (April 1 through March 31) and since Nissan considers SEMA to be one of the "major" shows in North America, it won't be attending the 2009 aftermarket extravaganza. Nissan's Darryll Harrison told us that the automaker wouldn't be participating in any more U.S. expos this year, and with its fiscal year ending in March of 2010, don't expect Nissan to appear at another event in the States until late 2010 (read: LA Auto Show).

Mazda's participation at SEMA will be significantly reduced this November, with the automaker deciding to forgo formal Mazda or Mazdaspeed stands in favor of releasing a few vehicles to select aftermarket firms to trick-out and display at their own booths. Mazda's Director of Communications, Jeremy Barnes, justifies the scaling back of its trade-show presence by saying, "We have chosen to focus our funds where we can directly access consumers" and SEMA isn't it. Barnes went on to say that the new Mazda3 will be prominently featured at this year's event, with at least two models being built for show duty with the automaker's full cooperation, along with a few yet-to-be-disclosed projects.

General Motors and Ford are expected to attend, although the jury is still out on Chrysler, and Honda is currently evaluating their presence, although it may be reduced compared to previous years. No matter what automakers pull-out of this year's show, expect less products on tables, fewer vendors on the floor and even fewer attendees as the aftermarket continues to struggle to keep its head above water.

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