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Nav Soars in First Half

New York – Navigation is providing a welcome boost in autosound this year, with sales to dealers up 150 percent year-to-date through June in dollar volume, reaching $50 million, according to the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA).

In units, the industry shipped 42,000 DVD in-car navigation machines during the first half, representing a 115 percent gain over the period last year, CEA said.

Retailers attribute the increase to lower prices and innovations such as the ability to navigate and watch a DVD with the Pioneer AVIC-N1 and the touch confirmation screen on the Alpine IVA-D300.

Audio Express, Scottsdale, Ariz., said in-car navigation, “is turning into a real category for us,” despite the fact that most of Audio Express stores are located in the middle of the country, rather than the coasts, where navigation is more popular, said purchasing manager Paul Gosswiller.

Best Buy, which claims to be the leader in aftermarket navigation sales, said its growth in navigation has outpaced the industry’s, but that most of its activity is in portable units such as the Magellan RoadMate 700 and Garmin STP2620, said a spokesperson.

For in-dash navigation, retailers said the Pioneer AVIC-N1 is a key mover and that customers are happy to pay the $300 premium over a standard DVD system to get the navigation capability.

Steve Laplante, general manager for 10-store chain Jo-Di’s Sound Centers in Hartford, Conn., said navigation is up by about 20 percent, “but if you include the AVIC-N1, it’s up over 100 percent.”

Pioneer says the AVIC-N1 has captured well over 50 percent of the market for in-car navigation since its launch in March. It credits the unit’s popularity to its ability to play a DVD while performing navigation, its single DIN all-in-one chassis and the “tuner” performance features. But VP of marketing Mike Townsen also notes, “The market itself is really ready for mobile navigation. They know the new cars have it, so the market now sees it as a useful function for the automobile.”

Pioneer said it will unveil an updated version of the AVIC-N1 at the SEMA show this fall.