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Audiovox Expanding OE-Look Head Unit Selection

5/11/2011 10:57:25 AM Eastern
Hauppagge, N.Y. - Audiovox continues to expand its selection of OE-look A/V-navigation systems with the launch of the industry's first such model for the Hyundai Sonata.

Advent
The company also reaffirmed previously announced plans to offer eight to 10 more OE-replacement models this year, all designed to exploit opportunities left on the table by automakers, said Audiovox Electronics president Tom Malone.

The company's factory-fit head units are Advent-branded products targeted to the expediter market. All are touchscreen-equipped double-DIN A/V-navigation units designed to match OEM cosmetics and plug into the factory wiring harness of particular car models. When necessary, the head units plug into the vehicle's digital databus and steering-wheel controls.

Audiovox's OE-look heads are usually priced by car dealers at about $2,000 installed.

The OE-look head units fill a niche left by automakers that offer sophisticated A/V-navigation systems in high-end vehicles but limit the systems' availability in low- to mid-end vehicles, said Malone. Automakers either do not offer A/V-nav systems in those vehicles or offer the systems only as options in expensive options packages that would otherwise force price-conscious consumers to pay for options they don't want, he explained.

"The automakers left the door open for the car dealer business again," Malone said. The factory-look radio business of the 1980s and 1990s faded as the automakers upgraded their radios and integrated them into the vehicle's electronics systems, Malone explained. That reduced the need for car dealers to offer step-up radios, which also became more difficult to install because of electronic and cosmetic integration with the vehicle.

Aftermarket opportunities, however, rose again for two reasons. Not only did automakers bundle A/V-nav systems as part of expensive options packages in low- and mid-priced vehicles, but "just in the past few years, " aftermarket multimedia-nav systems became more affordable, Malone explained.

With the launch of the head unit for 2011 Sonatas, Audiovox expanded its selection of factory-fit models to 11, having introduced its first two models last year and adding nine so far this year. The next OE-look head will ship in two months as part of the company's plans to add eight to 10 more in 2011. Those heads will be designed for the Toyota Tundra, Sienna, Prius, and Venza as well as for the Subaru Forrester and multiple Chrysler/Jeep models yet to be finalized.

Current head units include models for the Sonata, Toyota Corolla, Toyota Camry, Honda Civic, Honda CRV, Toyota Highlander, Toyota RAV4, and Hyundai Santa Fe model. A Volkswagen SKU is available, as are GM models, including one for vehicles with a factory Bose system.

The company also offers a universal factory-look double-DIN model for any vehicle with a double-DIN dash opening.

All models feature 7- or 8-inch widescreen LCD touchpanel, DVD/CD /MP3/WMA playback, navigation with Navteq U.S./Canada maps with 11 million POIs and 3D landmarks, turn-by-turn voice guidance in 13 languages, and spoken street names in English, French and Spanish.

Other features include built-in hands-free Parrot Bluetooth with external Parrot microphone, iPod/iPhone USB port for music playback, 3.5mm A/V inputs to play back iPod/iPhone video with optional cable, Bluetooth stereo streaming (A2DP), Bluetooth AVRCP to control select smartphone-app functions from the head unit, and Bluetooth phonebook transfer.

The radios also feature XM-ready radio controls, rear-view camera input, nine-band EQ, dual-zone audio/video output, and subwoofer output.

All accept downloadable feature enhancements installed by expediters. One recent upgrade was a Bluetooth "voice activation" upgrade that lets drivers access a smartphone's voice-dialing option through a button on the touch screen or via the steering wheel controls.

 
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