OEM Integrators Present Market Outlook

By Amy Gilroy On Mar 21 2005 - 8:00am

A panel discussion at MERA KnowledgeFest 2005 on the popular topic of OEM integration gave a glimpse of OEM trends over the next 15 years.

“The chances of us taking the radio out and replacing it 10 years from now will be slim,” said Chris Cook, the Consumer Electronics Association's (CEA) staff director, who joined panelists from OEM Integrators PAC, Peripheral and Scosche and moderator Barry Vogel of The Ultimate Edge in Oswego, N.Y.

The panelists estimated that a quarter of all car stereo head-unit installations now require some form of electronic OEM integration kit.

Cook said that 12 percent of new cars already have screens for viewing DVD or data and this figure will increase to over 50 percent by 2010. A full 25 percent of all vehicles by that time will include rear seat entertainment, compared with 10 percent at present, said Cook.

By 2020, 9 million cars will be sold with broadband access, he said, noting, “This changes the model for everything.” He added, “The simple [OEM] radio has become a complex user interface, and there's no turning back from that for the car makers.”

Tampering with auto-safety features will be a growing aftermarket concern. General Motors, with 21 percent of the U.S. car market, commonly integrates the seat-belt chime into the radio, but it is against the law to remove a safety device, said Cook. “So if you remove a GM radio and don't replace the safety-belt chime, it's illegal.”

CEA's main weapon to fight integration, at present, is to tap into a new multimedia network used in cars called MOST. (See MOST story.)

OEM integrators, including panelists Sean Maschue of Peripheral, Brett Riggs of PAC and Trevor Kaplan of Scosche, said their approach to integration is to find problems in the most common vehicles and determine if it is cost effective to develop a solution for them. They agreed that under this scenario, certain cars get overlooked. Maschue said, “Nothing has dead stumped us yet. It's just a matter of how much it will cost and how many we can sell.”

Panelists also remain confident in the aftermarket's agility. “While the OE companies are getting better at adding electronics, their design cycles are still three to six times longer than CE development cycles.” Maschue said.

Scosche's Kaplan said one of the new integration tools from the company will address radios on the new GM LAN in the Chevy Malibu, Cobalt and Pontiac 6. These tie in functions such as oil and fuel level warnings into the radio. The kit will allow installers to retain these functions but replace the radio.

PAC's Riggs said the company is working on kits that will allow the factory in-dash display to be used with a rear-vision backup camera.

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