By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Despite the challenges in the fledgling car locator market, new suppliers continue to enter the segment and current suppliers are upgrading products and fine-tuning advertising strategies.
Autostart launched its Vigil GPS/digital cellular system in Canada and expects to enter the U.S. market in the next 30 days under a private label. The system provides roadside assistance, vehicle tracking via the Internet, theft notification, as well as remote door unlock and remote start capability. It will be offered through a major OEM company, to be announced, who will sell the product under a different brand through distributors, fleets and retail specialists, said national sales director Peter Fazi.
In addition, the company will offer it with a Palm PDA navigation option. The company will supply a Palm handheld with an interface cable and navigation software at an estimated price of $299. The system is expected to carry a price of approximately $695 with monthly service fees in the range of $9.95 to $14.95.
Audiovox is entering the market with a unit in February called Pursuitrak that allows Internet tracking and automatic theft notification. Pursuitrak contacts the user by phone, e-mail or wireless messaging in cases of a triggered car alarm, unauthorized movement, when the car has indicated an excessive speed, or a low battery event, the company said.
Subscribers can also access convenience features through Pursuitrak by phone or Web browser, including door unlock, disarm and arm, and an optional remote start. They can also start the CarFinder feature and request the vehicle's location. Suggested retail price for Pursuitrak is expected to range from $700 to $800 with service fees to be announced.
Code Technologies, which has been shipping its GuidePoint line of car locators since March, is launching a cable TV advertising campaign in Detroit. The campaign targets demographics of drivers earning $75,000 a year, as well as teenagers. The company is also currently selling its GuidePoint product line in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, St. Louis, Oklahoma City and Dallas. Code Technologies is not yet advertising in those cities, says Mueller, explaining, "This is something that people really don't understand yet. We're trying to come up with an advertising forum that will explain the concept."
DEI said it will make an announcement at CES in January regarding car locators. According to CEO Jim Minarik, "We can't be real specific, but we definitely plan to be a major player in the automatic vehicle locator category."
InterTrak began selling its car locator system in April and reported its first stolen recovery event this month. VP of sales and marekting Barnet Fagel said the event occurred in Richardson, TX. The car owner of the stolen vehicle with the InterTrak device called the police, who then tracked the vehicle which resulted in its successful location and two arrests.
InterTrak is selling a GPS/cellular-based locator through retailers, expediters and fleets using the AerisNet network and the Telvoke call-in center. Users can opt for free service without automatic theft notification or they can receive theft notification to a pager, cellphone, phone or by email with a monthly service fee. Features include remote arm/disarm, remote lock/unlock, remote horn and lights flashing, remote start, vehicle history tracking, automatic remote detection if the vehicle is being towed, notification if the vehicle exceeds a pre-determined speed for a predetermined period and low battery warning. The service plan runs from $9.95 for 10 "communications" per month to $38.95 for 200 communications.
LoJack says it has two new products in the works although no dates have been set for their release. The first is LoJack Early Warning — a unit which reports a theft to the police who then activate the LoJack. Also, if the owner's car is moved without permission, the owner receives notification via cellphone, e-mail or phone. The system comes with a special key fob "If someone is in the car without the fob, the car knows he is not the owner and you are notified. So if your kids take your car without your permission, you get a nofication," said a spokesman.
The second product, Locate by LoJack, will be a GPS-based Internet tracking device. No further details were available from the company.
Omega Research, which produces Excalibur, Canine and other car security brands, just entered the car locator market with the GPS2000. The product is currently available on a limited basis with full production expected in January, according to Mike Thompson, assistant director of marketing.
The GPS2000 is a GPS/digital cellular system that allows users to track a vehicle on the Internet. The system will automatically notify the user via e-mail or phone if his alarm is triggered or if the car is stolen. Users may also call in to an 800 number to activate the stolen vehicle mode, which will automatically honk the horn of the car and activate a tracking session.
Pricing is $48 for 150 uses (most events equal one use). The system carries a retail price of $599.
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