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Kenwood Supplies Smart Car

Long Beach, Calif. — Kenwood has been named the exclusive provider of car radio/navigation options for U.S. Smart Cars starting June 1, in an unusual distribution deal that includes select Kenwood retailers.

SmartUSA, supplier of mini fuel efficient vehicles that get up to 74 miles per gallon, will offer three Kenwood

A/V navigation systems as upgrade options on the “Smart Fortwo” vehicle. Customers who choose the Kenwood option can pick up their smart fortwo at their respective smart center with the AV/navigation system fully installed.  Approximately 65 Kenwood have been selected to service the network of smart centers, with the preset pricing of installation and systems across the country. 

“So it’s a relationship fostered between Kenwood and Smart USA but it’s really between the Smart dealer and the Kenwood dealers. It’s unique,” said Kenwood consumer electronics senior VP Keith Lehmann.

“As Smart USA expands its market presence in the U.S., we intend on continuing adding value to their program,” he added.

Lehman said about 20,000 Smart cars have sold in the U.S. through a network of close to 80 Penske-owned dealerships. The cars are made by Daimler AG.

The customer profile for Smart Car buyers includes a broad age demographic but is mainly upscale buyers looking for a third vehicle for short trips, said Lehmann. The cars can go up to 70 miles an hour. 

Kenwood said it approached Penske with the deal. Kenwood had a previous relationship with Penske, the exclusive U.S. distributor for Smart Cars, as Kenwood sponsors Penske Racing teams. 

The Kenwood A/V navigation systems to be available on the Smart Fortwo (the two-seater version of the Smart Car) range in price from $1,450 to $2,400 including installation. The basic system offers Garmin technology, 6.1-inch touch-screen, Bluetooth hands-free calling, Works with iPhone capability, iPod audio and video capability, and satellite radio and HD Radio capability with optional tuners. A step-up model at $1,700 allows users to control their iPod or iPhone via the radio’s touchscreen and it also adds three-way door speakers. The top of the line model adds an 8-inch subwoofer and four-channel amplifier for improved sound.

Kenwood is also reprising it 2008 joint promotion with Garmin with a second rebate promotion starting June 1. Consumers of select Kenwood A/V navigation system using Garmin technology can get $50 to $150 rebates through August 31.