Before Apple released CarPlay, a $699 AV deck without navigation was considered expensive. But with CarPlay capability, it’s become a hot item, say retailers.
Since CarPlay launched last year, it has created a step up market for compatible AV radios. One reason is that CarPlay provides an easy way to add navigation to a radio when you connect an iPhone. So it effectively turns a $699 radio (AHV-4100NEX) into in-dash navigation.
About 7 out of 9 retailers polled said CarPlay is catching on with customers. Two retailers said it’s become 50 to 75 percent of their deck business.
CarPlay, which brings the familiar Apple interface to a car radio, should get a boost in May when Kenwood is expected to launch CarPlay/Android Auto ready decks starting at $699. Also Parrot is expected to offer an Android/CarPlay radio RNB6 shown at CES at a time and price to be announced. They join first to market radios from Pioneer followed by Alpine.
Said Mehdi Narimanian, President of Sound of Tri-State, DE, “…we really had a hard time with $699 in the past. CarPlay has really helped us out with that price point—the Pioneer 4100 and last year it was the 4000. It was hard to sell a $699 piece before without navigation,” he explained.
CarPlay permits easy access to maps, music, messaging and phone calls when an iPhone is plugged into the radio.
Mike Andreas of Mike’s Sound Solutions in CA phrased it this way, “Before CarPlay the Pioneer 4000 [which later became the 4100] was a nice deck but it was expensive. Now that people can add navigation relatively easily, it makes it much more of a value.”
Eric Carter of Cartronix said he’s moving both Alpine’s CarPlay ready iLX-007 ($799) and Pioneer’s CarPlay radio starting at $699. “People aren’t sure what it is until they see it. If you are an Apple person, you’ll love it because it’s so easy to use.”
Pioneer’s Ted Cardenas said, “…we have certainly seen a lift at this price point.”
The key way to sell CarPlay is to demo it. Without the demo, you don’t get the sale, said retailers.
“Once you plug it in and CarPlay wakes up, it’s a done deal,” said Waiel Mohammed of Sound Station with 2 stores in NC. He not only sells it on navigation, but on safer texting. “The key words are ‘do you want your kids to be texting and driving?’ ‘Then I have the radio for you.’” He adds, “It’s probably the best thing out,” claiming it accounts for about 75 percent of his deck sales.
A second multi-store shop said CarPlay now accounts for 50 percent of its deck revenues. A third dealer said CarPlay represented 10 percent of its deck sales.
Not everyone says CarPlay is flying off the shelf. Al & Ed’s Autosound in CA, said demand for CarPlay is still low. “Head unit sales driven by consumers specifically asking for an aftermarket version of Apple’s CarPlay are relatively low, probably under 5% of our total head unit business. The limited number of head units that offer a CarPlay experience, plus the reality of the CarPlay product as opposed to more sophisticated features already available keep sales down. As CarPlay migrates to more models, this percentage will increase,” said Product Manager John Haynes. He added, ” It does work well, and CarPlay is important for a technology buzz.”
Also one retailer said it’s hurt the shop’s $1,400 navigation/deck sales.
But others are very bullish on CarPlay. Car Toys, Seattle, with 50 stores said it can’t reveal the percentage of its deck sales in CarPlay but VP Merchandising & Marketing Jim Warren said, “I can say that CarPlay is big. Both Android Auto and CarPlay are top priorities for Car Toys. We’re super excited about the technology and we’re promoting it heavily.”
Dean Magnussen of Sound Warehouse in UT said, “CarPlay has caught on… People come in and ask for it and when they see it demonstrated they go goo goo for it.”
Dan Jeancola at Sound Advice asks each customers what music they like. “If he says Van Halen, I’ll say ‘Play Van Halen’ and they see the album art and they want it,” he said of CarPlay.
CarPlay ready radios from Pioneer are the AVIC-8100NEX at $1,400 suggested retail price, AVIC-7100NEX at $1,200, the AVIC-6100NEX at $900, the AVIC-5100NEX at $750 and the AVH-4100NEX at $700. The 8100, 7100 and 4100 are also Android Auto ready.