Car AV Radio Sales Climb

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Many customers are now turning to simpler audio/video head units, without navigation, and choosing to get their navigation from a PND (portable navigation device) or smartphone.

Kenwood senior VP consumer electronics Keith Lehmann says the company is seeing new interest in AV head units WITHOUT navigation. “All customers want to do is connect their iPod to it. They want it to have Bluetooth, maybe watch a movie or two, but they want the navigation off the smartphone. We’ve been seeing that since the summer.”

Sales tracked by NPD are starting to show the trend. In-dash navigation retail sales to consumers are down 9 percent in units for the year through August while plain AV radios are up 4 percent over the year earlier.

Some retailers are seeing a similar sales pattern while others are not.

Car Toys in Seattle agreed with the trend and added that plain AV radios are “really performing well. We are seeing tremendous growth in this area. We believe that the premium being charged for the navigation feature is becoming problematic for many customers. Manufacturers are asking the public to pay up to a $400 premium for navigation over a comparably featured AV radio without navigation – many customers are opting out of the nav feature,” according to SVP merchandising Jim Warren. Plain AV car radios are up about 20 percent year over year at Car Toys.

Crutchfield however said, “Our year over year comparisons look better for in-dash navigation receivers than for AV in-dash. So if it’s a trend, our numbers don’t reflect it,” according to Carl Mathews senior director of mobile merchandising.

More than 50 million PNDs have sold in North America since 2006, according to iSuppli.

About 14.7 million smartphones sold in the U.S. in second quarter. Recent Android, Windows and some Nokia phones offer free, voice-guided, turn by turn directions.

So it’s not surprising that these products are putting a dent in sales of in-dash navigation.

But Alpine says not all of the uptick in car AV sales is due to a shift towards PNDs and smartphones. “Some of the 2 DIN AV demand is a result of consumers using their smartphone or PND for NAV. I’m also seeing consumers stepping themselves up from a $349-$399 single DIN product to a double DIN AV model. For a little more money, you get a screen and DVD. I couldn’t characterize the percentage of people who buy for these two reasons but I’m confident it is not all due to smartphones or PNDs,” said assistant VP sales Mike Anderson.

Source: CEoutlook (exclusive)
Photos: (from top) Kenwood’s Keith Lehmann, Kenwood DDX516 DVD receiver via Crutchfield, Alpine’s Mike Anderson

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