At some dealers, half of the double DIN decks sold now lack a CD player.
Gaining in popularity for the last two years, mechless radios (without a CD or DVD mechanism) are especially attractive to younger buyers who haven’t played a CD in years.
“It’s getting to [where] half our sales are mechless. For the double DINs in the high prices, it’s probably already 50/50,” said John Haynes of Al & Ed’s Autosound, CA.
Proline Car Audio in NY also says mechless is reaching the half way mark in radio sales and Sound Warehouse, UT, says mechless is at 40 percent of its AV deck sales.
In audio-only head units (without a screen), mechless is expected to account for 41 percent of sales to dealers this year, according to the Consumer Technology Association (CTA). By 2023, that figure is expected to increase to 50 percent. Unfortunately, the CTA doesn’t break out mechless sales for radios with screens, where the share is even higher, according to retailers we polled.
At Sound of Tri-State, DE, mechless is still only 20 percent of sales, but, “It is changing quickly as both Kenwood and Pioneer have added more mechless to their Double DIN lineup this year on their low, mid and high-end video selection. I can see it jumping to 50 percent plus easily within next couple of years,” said Mehdi Narimanian.
Pioneer says mechless now makes up 35 percent of its Double DIN AV units. But none of its navigation models are mechless to date.
“We’re definitely seeing a rise in mechless,” said Pete Riker at The Specialists, in AZ. “I think there would be more mechless sales if Kenwood and Pioneer make their high end navigation systems mechless. We still sell a lot of high end navigation.”
Nate Kubicz of Car Tunes, Detroit MI said, “It’s a bizarre phenomenon, here, it’s only about 10 percent. It’s counter-intuitive. All the manufacturers and other retailers tell us that’s what everyone wants. Then we bring them in and they don’t sell. People in Metro Detroit still want to hold on to their discs. If you ask them, ‘Do you know where your CDs are,’ they say, ‘No, I don’t know.’ The younger one’s are okay but the older ones still want it. Most of our clientele is older, 30 and above.”
Dean Magnussen of Sound Warehouse notes, “We don’t call them mechless, we call them ‘digital.’ Mechless implies they are missing something.”