May car audio sales were a surprise, and better, most likely, than any supplier expected, said Pioneer USA Car Electronics VP Marketing Ted Cardenas, speaking for the industry as well as Pioneer.
Cardenas believes car audio’s status as a niche market is working in its favor.
On the one hand, we are not going to have a 20 million customer-a-year base like the iPhone, he said. “But the positive is those enthusiast customers that really like car stereo and car electronics, that’s their hobby. Some people compete in triathlons, some bicycle and some golf. Car stereo customers are car stereo customers as long as they have the financial ability to do so. What May has proven is those people are still going to come running. Stimulus maybe. But May is more than just a $1,200 effect. If you compare last year, even with some stores closed, as an industry, with few exceptions, if you talk to manufacturers, everyone has had a better May than we did [last year] and its better than just the $1200 [would allow],” he said
“Personally I think the world is never going back to the way it was…For general merchandise, will we go to a grocery store the same ever again? But car audio seems to be like other automotive services where there’s installation and specialized product. May has proven for our aftermarket enthusiast customer, they are going to still go to the retailers,” said Cardenas.
Pioneer said its shortages were not the result of overseas production or parts shortages but simply better than expected demand. “We had a fantastic month, as a result stock is low.” The company now sources very little product from China, he added.
Sales of its new Alexa-ready NEX tablet style radios are selling “fantastic.” Not just the 9 and 10 inch models but also the 6.8 inch models, he claimed.“All five models are selling like gangbusters,” said Cardenas. Consumers are coming in and specifially asking for the Alexa products, he said.
Regarding Pioneer operating under new ownership by Baring Private Equity Asia, he said, “Now, through our first year, things are great. I think the Alexa built-in launch is evidence that Pioneer is only stronger than we had been prior to the change in ownership.”