By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Panasonic, the self-proclaimed leader in navigation in Japan, officially begins shipping this month its first U.S-aimed in-dash navigation unit, and it will enter portable GPS in the future.
The Strada in-dash navigation system is a 30GB hard-drive-based, double-DIN model that can play back iPod video and audio at a suggested $1,799.
It will be joined by additional navigation devices in the next 12 months, said national marketing manager for the mobile electronics division Rob Lopez, adding that "a portable is on the horizon."
Panasonic said it foresees double-digit growth in in-dash navigation devices over the next three years and estimates that sales of double-DIN in-dash units will increase this year to 120,000 units, up from 100,000 last year.
While the market is small compared with more than 2.5 million personal navigation devices (PNDs) sold in North American last year, Panasonic believes the in-dash market will benefit from the surge in portables. The company said its research shows that 40 percent of PND owners say that their next GPS purchase will be an in-dash model.
The new Strada CN-NVD905U has a 7-inch screen; built-in maps of the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico; and 12 million points of interest. It is compatible with an optional Sirius real-time traffic receiver and plays back DVDs as well as iPod video. It can work with either XM or Sirius standard satellite radio service and offers Bluetooth for hands-free dialing.
Panasonic plans to sell the Strada through its current retailers as well as to expediters who sell to car dealerships.
Panasonic, which said it's ultimate aim it to become the top ranking in-dash navigation supplier in the United States, a position reportedly held by Pioneer, said it will promote the new Strada in a campaign aimed at business "road warriors."
The company will run full-page ads in in-flight magazines and has purchased signage at leading airports.
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