If the hottest trend at CES was the promise of more CarPlay and the announcement of Android Auto starting in March, the second hottest trend is the boom in power sports audio.
In fact, you could have been forgiven for thinking the North Hall of CES was really a power sports show.
Water-resistent audio products are moving beyond the boat and motorcycle to accommodate All Terrain vehicles (ATVs) or quads, and Utility Vehicles, (UTVs) or side by sides, with sales of UTV audio considered particularly promising by many suppliers.
UTV sales are on the rise and more importantly, UTV owners generally have cash to burn. After spending $17,000 to $25,000 on a recreational vehicle, they typically spend another $1,700 to outfit the vehicle. And a significant amount of that cash goes to items like rear and side view mirrors. More than 13 percent of owners surveyed by SEMA said they want to buy a GPS for their vehicle.
Car audio suppliers clearly want a piece of that pie.
Rockford believes that a decent segment of its former car stereo customers, who bought a Rockford product at 18 years old, are now power sports vehicle owners. And they may be more likely to add audio to their recreational vehicle than to their leased car. The company showed over 50 power sports audio products during CES. Diamond Audio also launched a full new Motorsport line for power sports vehicles, while Clarion, Dual Electronics, Kenwood, JL Audio, MTX and more than a dozen other suppliers made significant additions to their marine/power sports audio lineups.
Bluetooth amplifiers, in particular, almost unheard of last year, dotted nearly every 12 volt booth or suite at the show. Some of the amps, in various formats, including soundbars, were shown by Phoenix Gold, MTX, Kenwood, Dual, Powerbass, Boss Audio, Massive Audio, and Soundstream. They let you stream audio from your phone to your sports vehicle, without the need to install a full sound system.
Bluetooth amplifiers and sound processors for the car (or power sports as well) were also shown by Kicker, Helix, JBL and Infinity.
And Bluetooth receivers that can be added to any amplifier were shown by suppliers including JL Audio, MTX and Memphis Car Audio.
What’s the market size for power sports audio?
For UTVs, about 410,000 households buy UTV accessories, according to SEMA as of late last year.
Marine audio sales are up, say suppliers, and more people are adding audio to their motorcycles.
We guess that at least 1/3rd to 1/2 of the show vehicles at CES were power sports vehicles. Here’s a few below. Please go to www.facebook.com/ceoutlook to see more.
Disclaimer: We know that we missed suppliers who deserve mention either for marine audio or Bluetooth amplifiers or their great demo vehicles. If you want to add your name to any of these lists, please post a comment with a link to your products, or demo vehicle photos.
Click photos to enlarge.