Sales and interest in a new product is signaling the rise of a potential new category for 12 volt expeditors.
More than a half dozen dealers and distributors we polled this month say they are placing their first or second orders for a remote operated SUV tailgate opener from VOXX. And VAIS plans to introduce its version of a liftgate upgrade kit in 30 to 45 days.
VOXX’s Advent Liftgate launched in January. It provides the powered liftgate option at a fraction of the cost of factory packages. And it adds another product expeditors can pitch to car dealers, they said.
VOXX’s Shane Wilson said, “It gives expediters something new they can go to the dealers with.” On some SUVs, the powered tailgate is only available as part of a $5,000-$6,000 package. And other models, such as the Mazda CX5, has no powered tailgate option, he said.
The Advent ADVLFT kit turns a manual SUV tailgate into an automatic, remote operated trunk opener by replacing the shocks with powered shocks. The user then controls the tailgate from his factory remote by pressing three times on the unlock button. It currently works with eight SUV models and VOXX plans, in the next 60 days, to expand that to 4 additional vehicle models including the Toyota Sienna, Chevy Trax, Kia Sportage and Hyundai Sonata (2016-2017 model years for each). Estimated pricing for the kit is $999 to $1,199 although some expediters bundle it with leather seats at higher package prices.
Advent ran out of inventory from the first run and said it air freighted in more to keep supplies flowing. Wilson said, “We’re investing to make this a category. We will continue to launch more vehicles as they come out. It’s something we’re really going to support and dive into.”
Some expeditors said the price tag was high and might cut into sales. Others liked the high price tag as a new profit center. And still others said by stocking the new category, the expeditor becomes more of a one-stop-shop for the car dealer.
For its part, following a delay, VAIS will introduce a handsfree liftgate model. It goes a step further than the remote control powered liftgate, converting it so you can wave your hand in front of the license plate to open the trunk. Or if your hands are full you can wave any object and the tailgate will lift. But it requires the vehicle already have powered liftgates and push to start operation.
Called the VAIS LiftGo, it has the advantage of being fully handsfree for someone loaded down with groceries or packages. It will work initially with Toyota and Lexus vehicles at a suggested retail price of $499. It will be compatible with many other vehicle makes going forward, said VAIS’s Dennis Hopper.
A second version of the LiftGo will follow that works with older cars that don’t have push to start. It includes a proximity sensor that installs on the license plate frame and then when it senses your smartphone, it allows you to open the lift gate by waving your hand near the license plate.
“The system looks for your phone. If it’s within the perimeter of the vehicle, it will open your tailgate,” said Hopper.