Among the new products retailers would like to see from suppliers in the coming years are radio replacement solutions for older high end vehicles including European brands.
Luxury BMW, Audi and other vehicles are more likely to remain in circulation 15 years later than basic model cars. So owners are bringing them to 12 volt shops looking to repair the radio. While the aftermarket has solutions for some of these, there are many cars that remain a challenge for retailers.
Examples of these mentioned by retailers include Audi vehicles in the late 2010s, BMW Series 5 and 7 from the early 2000s, Lexus LX470, LS460, Toyota Land Cruiser, Volvo’s Waterfall radio, Acura TLX, Audi A6, Audi A8, Cadillac XTS, and Cadillac SRX.
“These used cars are very valuable. Unless we come up with a solution for the car radios that are going to break down, the owners are going to start using their own portable Bluetooth solution or who knows, wearing headphones,” said Mehdi Narimanian of Sound of Tri-State, DE, calling on aftermarket suppliers to offer alternatives.
“We have to work on a solution now because this list is getting longer and longer and not having a solution for these vehicles is going to be a huge challenge,” he added.
Metra said just prior to the recent SEMA Show that it will be tackling some of these with interfaces for aftermarket radios. See its new kits here.
“These vehicles are our focus for sure. Metra identifies these gaps and at the SEMA show, we had some solutions for radio replacement interfaces. We’re going to continue developing applications we currently do not cover,” said Metra’s Jason Anderson.
RDV Automotive, said it is considering offering such radio replacements in the future but it has not yet committed to the segment.
The problem for suppliers is because the vehicles are high end, there may not be enough of each model to warrant an investment in production of an aftermarket replacement.
Rich DeSclafani of RDV Automotive said, “… There’s a really a big investment needed to develop that type of product. It’s difficult to justify unless you know your ROI on your investment. There’s so much that has to be done to achieve a solution.”
Some Chinese off brand solutions are available for some of these vehicles, but they may have reliability issues or lack service options for trouble shooting. said retailers.
Dan Bowman of Titan Motoring, TN said, “I would love to see [solutions for] Land Cruiser and Lexus LX vehicles that had the navigation and digital climate controls. We’re seeing a cult like love for these vehicles. We have four at the shop. From the very late 90s to mid 2000s and into the 2010s. If we could have a good replacement on that, they are huge in the overlanding and off roading community and among people who love the Lexus and Toyota reliability and don’t care about the latest and greatest.”
Currently, many retailers use repair centers to fix the older OEM radios, but that can be costly, with little margin for the dealers.
Alan Benit of Ricky Smith’s Audio, LA said, “I echo that more and more [vehicles] are coming in with second and third owners. I can have a radio repaired sometimes. We’re in South Louisiana and we’re using a repair center in PA, so the cost to the customer includes freight,” he said, adding, “That often puts us on shaky ground….It’s sent off with an unknown amount [for the final price]. And sometimes, they can’t repair it. The parts may not be available.”
Photo: 2003 BMW Series 5 via Kelley Blue Book