New York — After years of adding sexier, more sonically pleasing radios to cars, car makers, faced with recession, are reversing the trend and removing radios in select vehicles, creating a small window of opportunity for the retail aftermarket.
At least eight car models in 2009 are available either without a radio or without a CD player according to car dealerships polled by TWICE, InstallerNet and Automobile magazine.
Among these are the Nissan Versa 1.6 Base and the Nissan Altima 2.5, both of which did not offer the radio-free option last year. Also included is the Honda Civic DX sedan.
Many of these models are pre-wired so the consumer may add a radio that could be purchased at a consumer electronics store, said car dealers, creating an opportunity for plus business at 12-volt stores.
In addition, some car companies are refraining from offering premium sound systems where they might have in the past, in order to keep vehicle prices as low as possible, said suppliers.
A stripped version of the Nissan Versa 1.6 costs about $5,000 less than a similar loaded model, said dealers, as not only the radio is deleted but also power locks, windows, A/C, ABS brakes and other features, bringing the base price down to $10,685.
Kris Bulla, InstallerNet director of ProTeam operations, said that the cars with out radios are still rare, but three Nissan dealers said the basic model is popular on the Versa 1.6, which is often used as a spare car.
Other models without a radio or CD player include the Toyota Yaris two-door liftback, Chevrolet Aveo LS, Ford F-150 XL regular cab, Pontiac Solstice and Smart for Two Pure.
Car makers, however, continue to innovate in radios and electronics. In Japan, Honda and Toyota are reportedly adding rear-vision backup cameras to several car models, where it was previously offered only on luxury cars.
A report in the Nikkei Business Daily said Honda has found a way to keep costs down for including a 4.3-inch LCD that shows the area behind the car with superimposed lines indicating where the driver should park.
A backup camera has also proven popular in the Nissan Cube in Japan, particularly with young drivers who are still nervous about driving. Nissan combined the system with an iPod connector supplied by Panasonic and is successfully wooing young purchasers, said the report.