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Sound Systems Target Specific Vehicles

LAS VEGAS – Aftermarket autosound suppliers are broadening the selection of drop-in sound systems designed for specific vehicles.

Under an expanded Restyle program, Alpine is replacing the factory radios and displays of additional full-size pickups with a 9-inch navigation system bundled with dash kits and connections to factory infotainment systems. Alpine also extended its Restyle concept to include its first direct-fit amplifier/speaker package.

For its part, JBL launched its first direct-fit system to add speakers, amplifier, and subwoofer to a factory head. And Blaupunkt, marketed in the U.S. by Rockford Corp., developed its first vehicle-specific model for the U.S. It’s intended for select 2003 and later Volkswagens and features built-in CAN databus interface to retain factory features.

Alpine said it is focusing on trucks because owners spend more freely to accessorize their vehicles, and trucks generally come with less sophisticated OEM sound-system options.

Here’s what dealers found:

Alpine: The company expanded its selection of vehicle- specific Restyle kits, launching five new systems to raise the total number of systems to seven. They fit 90 percent of the truck trim levels available, said Brown. The trim levels account for more than 8 million vehicles. Alpine’s original two vehicle-specific systems fit into 10 to 15 percent of truck trim levels. The latest systems range in price from $3,000 to around $3,400 and ship at various times between January and the end of March.

The Restyle kits bundle the 9-inch X009 nav system with wiring to plug into the factory wiring harness, antenna adapter, and iDataLink Maestro module, which connects to the factory databus to retain factory infotainment- system features. The dash kits match the color, texture and shape of the factory dash to maintain a stock look. They also replace factory dash buttons with hard keys. Alpine plans more such speaker/amp packages in 2015 and “a much wider array” in 2016, said a spokesman.

Blaupunkt: The VW-specific head is the $899-suggested Philadelphia 845, a multimedia/navigation head shipping in the second quarter with 7-inch 800×480 touchscreen, Bluetooth, DVD/CD playback, media playback from USB and memory cards, made for iPod/iPhone USB, playback of music from a USBconnected Android phone via an app, Bluetooth SPP, and rear-seat entertainment capability.

JBL: The Harman brand launched its first JBL Concert Edition plug-and-play audio upgrade package, which is designed for the Ford F-150 in the U.S. It will be sold exclusively through Car Toys beginning in March. Packages for additional vehicles will be available by June.

The first package includes four speakers, a pair of 8-inch DVC subwoofers, and a DSP amplifier, all tuned to the vehicle’s interior. They are designed to integrate into the cabin of the vehicle to reduce install costs by making interior modifications unnecessary. The system also uses existing wiring harnesses and speaker locations. Pricing wasn’t released.