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Car DVD Receivers Maintain Sales Momentum

NEW YORK — Dollar sales of in-dash DVD receivers are skyrocketing this year, but sales aren’t growing fast enough to prevent the overall car-A/V aftermarket from dipping slightly.

Sales of the double-DIN head units are rising for multiple reasons, suppliers said, including consumer desire for large touchscreen displays, the ability to display smartphone-stored video and music metadata on a large screen, touchscreen selection of smartphone-stored music and head-unit features, and in a growing number of cases, the ability to display and control a smartphone’s core functions, including contacts and calendar, and selected smartphone apps, including turn-by-turn navigation and real- time traffic apps.

Aggressive pricing is also playing a role in the growth of DVD receivers, or multimedia receivers, said one supplier. “The category is clearly being targeted by selected brands for growing market share, and a lot of money is being spent to buy this share,” said Keith Lehmann, Kenwood USA executive VP.

Double-DIN dash openings have also grown more common over the years, accommodating a multimedia receiver’s larger chassis. “Of those dashboards that still have a recognizable radio location, double- DIN is probably the most common,” said Lehmann. Of course, he noted, “we’re seeing more factory screens that are non-double-DIN size with very challenging radio replacement capability, or none at all.”

A Clarion spokesperson agreed. “Most new vehicles have migrated towards larger in-dash units, but we are still seeing a great deal of modifications being made. Most people own their vehicles so they are not afraid to modify the dash, especially with the generation of our customers and if the newer [aftermarket] systems offer more features for connectivity than their factory system.”

Sales of multimedia receivers priced from $299 to $399 are growing the fastest, said Kenwood’s Lehman, and “if a brand chooses to dive down to $199, that will be the fastest growing price point because this will steal an incredible amount of step-up in-dash CD business.” Lehman also sees “decent sales” at around $500.

Ted Cardenas, marketing VP for Pioneer’s car electronics division, called DVD receivers “the primary growth category” in the aftermarket.

NPD statistics bear this out. For the January through May period, retail-level sales of in-dash DVD receivers rose 27 percent to $50 million on unit-sales growth of 34 percent to 166,000. Those numbers exclude stand-alone DVD players.

For all of 2012, in-dash DVD sales were up 26 percent to $105.6 million on unit growth of 32 percent to 342,000.

DVD-receiver sales have grown for the year to date through May despite an overall aftermarket decline of 2 percent to $395 million, NPD statistics show. The $395 million figure includes amps, car CD changers, speakers, in-dash players (CD and DVD), mobile multimedia products such as stand-alone DVD players and LCD displays, satellite-radio boxes, and fixed in-dash navigation. In 2012, total aftermarket sales were down 3 percent to $995 million.

The statistics also show that for the year through May, in-dash CD-receiver sales were down 10 percent to $123.9 while in-dash navigation sales were flat at $35.6 million. Amplifier sales were up 3 percent to $41.7 million, and speaker sales were up 1 percent to $103 million.

Other factors, such as improved screen resolution and growing feature content, also contribute to DVD-receiver gains, though at the expense of pricier in-dash navigation units, said Pioneer’s Cardenas. DVD receivers have “closed the gap” with navigation units in screen resolution and feature content, he said. In many cases, “the only difference is largely in the navigation.”

Other factors also contribute to flat in-dash navigation sales, including smartphone navigation apps, said JVC national product supervisor Jacob Hardin. “Multimedia is increasing, and navigation is flat,” he said.

Another reason for navigation’s flat sales trajectory is pricing pressure, added Kenwood’s Lehmann. “By removing navigation as an on-board feature, the product price can be dropped,” he said.