Three Tier 2 suppliers are out of CarPlay radios this week in some or all of their lines.
“Basically, CarPlay is CarPlay and the consumers, that’s all they want,” said Doug Kern VP of Sales & Marketing for BOSS Audio. Demand for CarPlay/Android Auto radios has lead to a run on even second second tier brands as Tier 1 is all but sold out.
Epsilon is out of CarPlay decks for the next few weeks and Linkswell is sold out this week. BOSS was sold out of Planet Audio CarPlay decks this week.
Epsilon, maker of Soundstream and Power Acoustik, said about a week ago, “Our business has been off the hook because we have product to ship. We just sold out of Apple CarPlay units today. We had sold 7,500 units in one day. Business is crazy. The warehouse hates me right now,” said VP Sales Ronnie Brashear.
Epsilon expects to offer more CarPlay decks in three weeks. Brashear attempted to explain how overwhelming business has been as of late. “To put this in perspective, we had to hire 10 people in the warehouse and they have to come in 7 days a week to stage inventory and put it on pallets over the weekend to get it ready to ship for Monday morning. I want to ride this balloon as long as I can.”
Epsilon’s business has doubled for the first quarter over last year’s first quarter.
“We’re still signing up new dealers,” said Brashear. Again, on head unit inventory he said, “Right now it’s day to day. I could have 1000 of something on a Tuesday and Wednesday it will be gone.”
Even at the low end of the market, $49 radios are now selling at $89, he said.
Linkswell said it has a container with product that has been stuck sitting off shore for weeks.
Suppliers are also making changes to products due to component shortages. Linkswell National Sales Manager Walt Detlefsen said the brand offers a deck with HDMI in and out. “but our factory is unable to get a board to give both. They offered me the option of no product or just HDMI out. So I accepted the HDMI out only.”
BOSS Audio said the company is benefiting from the fact its corporate company, BOSS Audio International (BIG) has three brands with a total of 44 different CarPlay models. So it may run out of BOSS Elite product but have plenty of Planet Audio.
Contributing to the inventory challenges on CarPlay radios are not only a lack of global chip supply, but shortages in LCD panels, which are climbing in price by the day.
Kern said, “We’re paying $10 more for a 6.2-inch or 7-inch panel and for our bigger model, 10.1 -inch, we’re paying over $20 more per panel. But we’re committed to having the product, though at higher prices. This week we raised our prices and we raised them in January.” BOSS prices were raised on average by 5 or 10 percent, and as high as 15 to 20 percent on some models.
And yet, the company is bringing on new accounts including leading retailers and more distributors. It just brought on GoFast Distributing and Davis Distributors. “We have a ton of other distributors that want to come on board with BOSS Elite especially, but we can’t deliver enough to the people we have already. DOW just came on board with Planet Audio.”
The company doubled its business for Q1 over last year’s first quarter and it was up 40 percent in 2o20 over 2019.