I’d venture to guess that the majority of ‘new’ four-wheel drive parts coming out onto the marketplace are a knock-off of some sort. Or at least, they’re not exactly what I would call innovative.
It seems four-wheel drive manufacturers, for the most part, are just building copies of each other’s parts. Company ‘A’ will introduce something new, only for company ‘B’ to release a slightly cheaper yet nearly identical product at a lower price point. We won’t get into the versions released by companies ‘C’, ‘D’ and even ‘E’.
There are a few companies at the top pushing hard to innovate, and plenty beneath them just reaping the rewards of someone else’s hard work. We see it with bull bars, lights, roof tents; actually, there are few segments we don’t see it in. This presents a problem, because there’s really no competition other than creating the cheapest product, which means the drive for innovation is nil. This is a bad thing.
It’s this drive for innovation makes four-wheel driving more accessible, safer, and more enjoyable. How many lives have been saved by the introduction of longer-reaching spotties and better-gripping off-road tyres? How many more places are we now able to access thanks to advancements in vehicle capability and ride quality? How many more new four-wheel drivers are out there seeing the country now because you don’t have to be bushtucker man anymore thanks to fridges and compact camping gear?
Innovations can start off as a small thing, but they often grow much larger than what they originally were. Unfortunately, a lot of those small companies can’t get the coverage they need to let people know they’re an option on the market. And often times they can’t even compete because before they even know it, someone’s copied their idea and sent it overseas for cheap manufacturing. That sucks, and I’m tired of seeing it.
One of the things you’ll notice with Unsealed 4X4 is that we try to highlight the innovator and the little guy as much as we can in our gear pages. So if you have a cool, innovative product or you’ve seen something that you think people really need to know about, give me an email and I’ll see if we can’t help – a rising tide raises all ships.