Long Beach, Calif. - Kenwood claimed it will be the first aftermarket autosound supplier to offer head units that connect to a new OEM-integration module that lowers the cost of integrating with factory Sync systems in Ford, Lincoln and Mercury vehicles and delivers a cleaner install.
"We are able to achieve this seamless factory integration in a more easily installed and affordable manner than with other solutions available today," said Kenwood senior VP Keith Lehmann.
With the head units, aftermarket installers will be able to replace factory head units in Sync-equipped vehicles with a Kenwood multimedia/navigation system and retain Sync's voice control over such factory features as outboard satellite-radio tuners, Bluetooth hands-free, Bluetooth audio streaming, and connected media players plugged into the factory's USB connection.
The install will also retain control of OEM features via the factory's steering-wheel-mounted controls and enable the Kenwood heads to display metadata from MP3 players connected to the factory USB port.
In addition, drivers will be able to use Sync's voice control to control the Kenwood head's source switching, and drivers will be able to control Kenwood head-unit functions from the factory steering-wheel controls.
Kenwood will launch five Sync-compatible multimedia/navigation systems at January's International CES.
Those heads incorporate software to talk to an optional iDatalink Maestro module made by Automotive Data Solutions (ADS). The module is expected to ship in March at a price that wasn't announced. The module plugs into the Kenwood heads' SiriusXM port, which normally connects to a universal SiriusXM satellite-radio tuner.
The ADS module will be less expensive than aftermarket Sync-integration kits that cost around $250, require the installation of a separate but included LCD display, and require users to keep the head unit in aux-input mode to get audio alerts of incoming cellphone calls, Kenwood said.
Because of these kits' drawbacks, said Lehmann, many dealers avoided selling them and just added amps and speakers to the OEM sound systems in Sync-equipped cars.
Besides an ADS module, an installation also requires a vehicle-specific T harness.
One Maestro module works with multiple vehicles, thanks to its ability to download vehicle-specific firmware via the web. The firmware allows the iDatalink module to connect to a specific vehicle's data network and enable communication between the Kenwood head unit and the vehicle's Sync module.
Automotive Data Solutions is a Montreal-based company that specializes in products that integrate aftermarket remote starting systems and security systems with OEM electronics in vehicles.
Kenwood will be first to market with iDatalink compatibility in 2012, "giving Kenwood dealers an advanced integration solution that is currently not available with any other aftermarket brand," Lehmann said. The development "will set a new aftermarket integration standard in the mobile electronics industry."
Sync has been available since 2008 and has appeared in millions of vehicles since.