12-Volt: Audi, Androids and You

At CES, Audi unveiled technology to connect to Google’s Android platform. Although the integration may be the first for an OEM, the aftermarket still beats automakers to the punch when you look at products such as Pioneer’s AppRadio or Clarion’s Smart Access. The buying demographic for replacement head units still skews way under 35 years old. These are the same type of people who typically do not have the discretionary income to drop on a new Audi A7 (although it would be nice). Our only hurdle is showing the possibilities in the aftermarket. A 2008 Honda Accord owner does not need to throw out the baby with the bathwater to get top-tier integration.

As Audi was one of the leading technology partners of CES, they also released unreal technology called Audi Piloted Driving. Think of it as not the car that parks itself, but YOU get to instruct it, using your smartphone. You step out of the car and use your smartphone to guide it into a tight space. In the aftermarket, we are just a few radar sensors and actuators away to make this work in today’s vehicles. But man, the implications are rough. Remember when the installer just grounded the parking brake signal on the Viper remote start on the manual transmission car and it launched itself into the side of the bay? Think about installing some of these technologies in the aftermarket and skipping a few sensors.

The savvy mobile electronics retailer needs to show what is possible – and the tried-and-true method is a demo vehicle. How many of your installation technicians are riding around in vehicles only wired up for good sound (if that much)? Unfortunately, although simple is better than complicated, and I am the first to drool over a picture-perfect ergonomically phenomenal New Old Stock Alpine 7909, if we want future business, our industry cannot count on sound upgrades alone. We need to be offering customers the total package.

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