More Factory Look-A-Like Radios Debut

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More vendors are offering factory look-a-like replacement radios for the expediter market and possibly the retail market in the future.

Priority Audio, Longwood, Fla., a start-up company launched by former Audiovox and Recoton managers, plans to sell a full slate of factory replacement radios starting this fall.

Valor has been shipping a look-a-like Camry model for the past 30 days, and Audiovox recently announced it will offer similar look-a-like products within the next 30 days.

Look-a-like radios are swappable with factory radios and have the advantage of adding iPod, Bluetooth, navigation and other popular features while maintaining a factory look and retaining factory tie-ins (such as steering wheel controls) at a lower price than OEM replacement models.

Valor says its Camry radio is selling as fast as it ships, and the company is air-shipping product, according to senior VP Doug Kern. Even more suppliers will enter this market, he believes, as “several factories in China have the same tooling. It will get crowded pretty fast.”

The Valor radio is a DVD receiver with iPod connectivity with a supplied cable, XM capability, built-in Bluetooth and optional navigation for a suggested retail of $999. A version with built-in navigation is also available at $1,499.

Valor also plans to offer similar replacement radios for General Motors, Chrysler, Ford and possibly other Toyota models during 2008.

Kern notes that many small retailers are asking for the product, possibly to sell to the local Toyota dealer. He also sees aftermarket potential for the product.

Priority Audio began operation a year ago, lead by industry members including Ken Johnson, who served as product development manager at both Recoton and Audiovox, and Barry Brandt, marketing manager for Priority.

It has been selling two aftermarket products until now, which are in-dash DVD/monitors, but will soon deliver a line of 11 look-a-like expediter radios. The first four models — for Chrysler, GM, and two for Toyota — should begin shipping by the SEMA show in November.

The Priority look-a-like models are DVD players with iPod control and cable, built-in Bluetooth, optional navigation and XM capability. Future models will also offer an SD card slot and USB interface, HD Radio and possibly Sirius capability. All models carry a suggested retail price of $999 with an optional navigation black box at $599.

Among the full lineup will be two Chrysler radios that work in approximately 16 models, three Toyota radios that work in more than a dozen car models, three GM versions that fit two dozen car models and one Ford unit to suit 19 vehicle models.


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