Car Radios Are Undergoing a Shape Shift

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Pioneer-AVH-190DVD car radio

The face of car radios are changing, literally, to where some radio face plates are now flatter, causing some headaches with matching dash kits.

Nearly every leading car radio supplier is starting to offer radios with a shallower nose piece.

Where the nose might have protruded 4 to 5 mm in the past, it may now be as shallow as 1 to 2mm. If there’s a volume knob on the radio, the change is enough that the knob may not protrude enough to properly use.  Or there’s a gap between the radio and kit.

Kit makers are aware of the problem.  Metra’s Bill Lauer said, “It’s a legitimate problem that we respond to….The radio manufacturers have made changes to some of the face plates on their radios.  We’re adjusting to that.  Whenever we make a new dash kit, we’ll make it so it fits the new radios as well as the older radios out there.”

He added, “The radio manufacturers don’t necessarily sit down and have a meeting with the kit makers when they change the radio…”

Future radios will likely continue to use the new flatter design.  Currently, Pioneer and Kenwood offer several models with the flatter nose.  Sony offers one model and says it will continue to expand the design.  A spokesman said, “This is a result of the advancement of technology, like smaller electronic components and thinner LCD displays. Compare this to phones, and how they continue to become slimmer while offer better displays and usability features.

In some car applications, the radio no longer sits flush in typical dash kits.  It might require an extra 30 minutes of labor to adjust the radio fit, said retailers.  But for some car models, modification isn’t feasible and a retailer might be required to step up the customer to a different model.


JVC’s new KW-V830BT has a flat face in a 6.8 inch display.  Marketing and Training Manager Hazim Jainoor said, “ is a minimalistic approach, designed to be stealthy in the dash, to assist in deterring theft, while simultaneously complimenting the dashboard’s aesthetics.”

He said JVC will continue to use this design under its El Kameleon series as consumers like the streamlined look of the unit.  JVC  has received zero complaints from dealers, he added.

Dealers said these latest changes in the face plate started about 18 months ago.  Louis Gonzales of Bay Area Audio Visions in Corpus Christi, TX  said, “It doesn’t fit into the kits flush like it used to, so we’re having to let things go that don’t look quite like we want or we have to do a lot more work to make it look okay.”

Another dealer said, “The radio doesn’t come out far enough and in some instances its hard to reach the volume knob…”


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  1. Perhaps aftermarket manufactures should include an adaptor plate to fit the standard kits. Or make a kit. But come on enough is enough. Doing this kind of stuff is just adding fule to the already hot fire in stopping aftermarket in the dash.

  2. As the article says, this started 18+ months ago. Caught us all off guard. Made gaps in the final installation that were previously not there. Still a bit of a pain in the ass to this day. We can usually figure something out, but as the article says, this takes extra unscheduled time. If you’re a busy shop, an extra 30 minutes PER INSTALL is a heck of a lot.

  3. Whenever I find that a new radio does this, I do my best to NOT sell said radio. It is sad that aftermarket manufacturers do the same thing to kit manufacturers that the OEM does to them.

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