Suppliers Broaden Real-Time Traffic Offerings

By Amy Gilroy On Jan 30 2006 - 8:00am

Real-time traffic service that delivers traffic updates roughly every minute is still a fledgling market, but it has won support by nearly every major navigation supplier.

Magellan and Kenwood at International CES added their names to the list of companies now offering real-time traffic options, joining suppliers including Alpine, Audiovox, Cobra, Garmin, Pioneer and TomTom.

Also at CES, Eclipse told TWICE it is “working on” offering real-time traffic, and Clarion said it expects to offer Sirius traffic later this year.

Pioneer, one of the first companies to offer XM's NavTraffic service said demand for the technology was slow initially but is gaining.

Pioneer field sales director Michael Townsen said, “In the first part of the year the attachment rate was below expectations. But when the Oct. 1 rebate [was launched], we saw an immediate increase in attachment.” The Pioneer mail-in rebate offered $400 off an AVIC navigation system plus the NavTraffic add-on module, bringing the price of a complete navigation/NavTraffic system down to a suggested $1,730.

Townsen would not reveal attachment rates for 2005, but said the goal for this year is to hit 70 percent or 80 percent.

Cobra said the attachment rate for a Clear Channel real-time traffic add-on to its NAV ONE 4000 navigation system reached about 50 percent during the peak season of the fourth quarter. Cobra attributes the relatively high rate to the fact that the traffic module can be installed by the user.

At CES, Magellan announced real time traffic will be available in April for its portable GPS RoadMate 760 and 700 models over FM. The company said it is likely to use the Clear Channel service.

Kenwood announced a new in-car navigation device, the KNA-G510, that can work with a choice of two traffic modules — one for Clear Channel over FM and one for XM NavTraffic. The GTM-10 add-on receiver delivers Clear Channel updates and is expected to ship in the second quarter at $80 to $100 suggested retail price. The GXM-30 XM NavTraffic receiver is expected to ship at the end of the first quarter at $270 suggested retail price. The Kenwood KNA-G510 navigation device itself is a joint project with Garmin and uses Garmin mapping software. It will ship in March at $800.

Also at CES, Audiovox announced that the next generation of the new XM Passport mini tuner will receive XM NavTraffic. Audiovox said its new ARGOS portable navigation device will offer XM NavTraffic in the near future through the unit's XM Passport slot. XM Passport was launched at CES and refers to XM's new $29.99 suggested retail priced mini tuners which can replace the need for an XM Direct tuner box.

Pioneer at CES revamped its AVIC line to include three in-dash models, all with XM NavTraffic (and iPod) capability. The two new DVD-based units, the AVIC-N3 and AVIC-D2, offer lower price points than the 2005 products they replace, at $1,800 and $1,500, respectively. Shipping is expected in March and April. The new top-of-the-line AVIC-Z1 has a built-in 30GB hard drive at a suggested $2,250.

Pioneer estimates that the overall after-market in-car navigation market grew by 40 percent in 2005 to 110,000 units and will grow another 35 percent this year.

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