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Remote starters had another strong winter selling season, benefiting especially from the popularity of the new two-way LCD systems that provide a visual confirmation of commands.
Directed Electronics, Audiovox and Autostart said the sales increase for the season was in the double-digit range with Audiovox claiming 30 percent growth.
"Remote start is totally unbelievable," said Steve Christman, vehicle security product manager of Audiovox. "Two-way is part of it, but also more and more people are in tune to it than in past years. It's no longer a toy. In colder areas, it's becoming a necessity."
The product continues to gain popularity in warmer climates as well, with Phoenix-based Audio Express claiming remote starter sales are up 22 percent in dollars for the season and Earmark Car Audio of Dallas claiming sales are "fantastic." Earmark president David Stein explained, "We've had a cold spell, and when someone's in the store and you suggest the product during frigid weather, the product becomes plausible. In the spring and fall it's a little more difficult to make a believer out of them."
Howard Miller, president of Crime-stopper, said the remote starter season began earlier than last year and is running longer. Usually the season cuts off by early February, he said, but sales are still strong. The company says that two-way systems are about 25 percent of its sales in units and are expected to continue to increase.
Autostart said two-way systems are gaining as prices drop. A low cost entry-level model last year hovered around $500 installed, while this year two-way LCD models are available at $329 installed.
Suppliers are seeking to drive prices down further with alternative visual confirmation technologies to LCD, including new LED models.
At CES, Directed introduced several LED two-way remote starter units to be available in its premium lines. The units are expected to ship in the second quarter at prices in the mid-$300 to $400 range, or about $100 below LCD prices.
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