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Pioneer Raises OEM Car Presence

Pioneer is coming to CES to let automakers and retailers know that it is a major player in both markets and that both camps benefit from the company’s dual-market presence.

Pioneer sold off its home entertainment and DJ businesses in 2015 to focus exclusively on OEM and aftermarket vehicle-entertainment systems.

“No one has their foot in both worlds as strong as we do,” said Russ Johnston, executive VP of marketing and corporate communications for Pioneer Americas. “We will be at CES for the first time as an automotive-entertainment- only business,” he added, and for the first time, OEM electronics will be a main focus of the booth.

Thanks to Pioneer’s OEM business, the company’s scale “gives us the ability to be first in the aftermarket” with such technologies as the first aftermarket connected- car platform [AppRadio], the first aftermarket Car- Play head units, and the first Android Auto head units, he said.

Back in 2001, Pioneer introduced the first aftermarket in-dash navigation units with real-time traffic, he said. Pioneer also was first with detachable-face radios and aftermarket DSP systems.

“Aftermarket dealers will say they never knew how deep we are with OEMs,” Johnston said of the company’s booth, and “we’ll let dealers know that this [OEM presence] is a good thing and that it provides the ability to do the best aftermarket job.”

At the same time, “OEMs look to us because of our aftermarket presence,” Johnson said. Pioneer’s aftermarket business makes it possible for the company to understand what consumers want in every market around the world, he explained. Other major OEM entertainment suppliers either have no aftermarket presence or a have a limited aftermarket presence with a small selection of products available in far fewer countries than Pioneer, he added. Other aftermarket companies have a smaller OEM presence than Pioneer, he noted.

To stress the advantages of its scale and dual-market focus, Pioneer at CES is demonstrating future technologies that could eventually become part of its OEM and aftermarket product portfolios. In a two-seat vehicle cockpit, the company will demonstrate advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) using Lidar, vehicle-location technology, mapping, and a heads-up display. All are enabling technologies for self-driving cars, Johnston said. Lidar recognizes buildings and intersections to supplement GPS to deliver the higher location accuracy needed for future collision-avoidance systems and self-driving cars.

Aftermarket displays: For its aftermarket customers, Pioneer will harken back to its car audiophile roots with the launch of five flagship CD-receivers and a digital media receiver (DMR) that add a variety of performance-related enhancements.

The new features include 13-band EQ, up from five bands; playback of lossless to 44.1kHz/16-bit FLAC files via USB and AAC via CD; speaker time alignment; control of the Spotify app on a connected smartphone, and control of basic features from a Pioneer remote app running on a USB-connected iPhone or Android phone.

The five CD-receivers are priced from $130 to $180, and the DMR is priced at $120.

The company will also refresh its line of top-end Networked Entertainment eXperience (NEX) in-dash multimedia/navigation receivers, which are targeted to heavy smartphone users. Four feature built-in navigation, and one connects to an optional navigation add-on module. All feature Car Play and the company’s AppRadio platform. Three also feature Android Auto. Prices in the 2015 line ranged from $750 to $1,400.

“For the past couple of years, we’ve focused on enriching the in-vehicle experience by incorporating popular third-party services and improving usability of new and existing products,” the company said. “With the new flagship CD-receivers, we’re going to back to our car audiophile roots, building in features that allow audio enthusiasts to have more control and customization of the sound delivered by our receivers.”