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Kenwood Goes With Bluetooth Nav For Growth

LAS VEGAS— With a challenging retail environment showing no signs of letting up, Kenwood expects a tough year for the 12-volt world but is addressing it with products that focus on navigation and Bluetooth, as well as USB and iPod controls.

Keith Lehmann, senior VP, Kenwood USA consumer electronics sector, expects navigation in particular to remain one of the company’s strongest areas. “Overall awareness has gone through the roof because of the portable navigation devices,” he said, noting that Kenwood is expected to benefit from its alliances with Garmin and Parrot.

The company’s proven success with its DNX-7100 navigation unit with “guidance by Garmin” is followed up with this year’s DNX-8120, a higher-end Excelon product with built-in Bluetooth courtesy of Parrot. The company’s 14 in-dash CD and nine in-dash video models also feature Bluetooth compatibility, an increasingly important feature with restrictions on in-car cellphone use.

A new five-model amp line is 30 percent to 44 percent smaller than last year’s products, Lehmann pointed out, as “application is driving the industry.”

Sales and marketing plans — rolled out at International CES under the “Navigate in 2008” banner — include an “X-Tend into Spring” dealer purchase-incentive promotion that runs through the end of April and a “Schmooze and Cruise” promotion that offers an Eastern Caribbean cruise to dealers who grow their Kenwood business to target.