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CEA Studies In-Car Device Demand

New York — The Consumer Electronics’ Association (CEA) recent study on consumer demand for in-car devices found that the highest pent-up demand is for navigation and for in-car safety devices such as General Motors’ On Star.

The new study, conducted in January-February of this year on nearly 800 consumers who own a vehicle, found that 47 percent of consumers plan to use a navigation system in the future while only 24 percent currently use one. CEA said 51 percent of consumers plan to use an “in vehicle safety system” in the future, while 20 percent do at present.

A third area of pent-up demand is in remote starters, with 32 percent of respondents planning to use one in the future compared to 18 percent who currently use one.

Lower pent-up demand was seen in satellite radio, in-car Internet devices, mobile video, and MP3 players and iPods.

Satellite radio is currently used by 21 percent of respondents, and 23 percent plan to use it in the future, CEA said. Nine percent of respondents said they use the Internet in the car, and 12 percent plan to, while 18 percent currently use a TV in the car, and only 13 percent plan to in the future. Eighteen percent use a laptop in the car, and only 14 percent plan to in the future. Also 27 percent use an MP3 player or iPod in the car, and 23 percent plan to in the future.

But CEA said other indicators show higher pent-up demand for these items. When consumers were asked what activities they would like to perform in their cars (vs. what devices they would like to use) the responses were much different. Under this line of questioning, 53 percent said they would like to listen to satellite radio in the car in future, 35 percent said they would like to access the Internet, 34 percent would like to access a PC in the car, 31 percent text message and 31 percent download music.

Similarly, 39 percent said they plan to watch movies in the car, and 27 percent said they plan to watch TV.

CEA presented the findings in a recent webcast, during which it also provided background statistics for the car electronics market.

CEA said that while the OEM autosound market was up 8 percent in 2005, the aftermarket was up only 2 percent. CEA said that U.S. drivers spend a mean time of 1.63 hours in their cars during weekdays. CEA also noted that while car sales have been trending down for the past five years, from 17.1 million annually in 2001 to 16.6 million in 2005, used car sales have trended upward from 42.6 million in 2001 to 44.1 million in 2005.