Satellite radio units, although shrinking in size, can still look like a misplaced wart on a dashboard. Audiovox and Terk have come up with a unique device to allow the customer to receive satellite radio without dashboard clutter. The new Toyota XM Smart Digital Adapter (MSRP $349.99) includes a box that connects out of sight to the Toyota radio and lets the consumer use the factory radio controls to adjust the satellite radio programming. According to Tom Malone, senior vice president, “For consumers who want satellite radio, but who don’t want the extra hardware that a plug-and-play requires on their dashboards, Direct Connect is the solution.”
If you do get some new customers selling these units and offering a superior installation service (and you will …), make sure that you ask the customer if the vehicle is leased. You can then make a database and contact the customer before the lease return so your install wizards can undo their handiwork using Bondo, colored silicon, Marine-Tex, SEM Paint, textured vinyl or a combo of the above. This is the best opportunity to discuss what the customer wants for their next vehicle. Although we are seeing OEM automakers integrate sophisticated electronics to their vehicles, there will always be portable technology that the consumer wants to have a better experience. Even if a standardized Bluetooth gateway is introduced that allows portable units to talk to the vehicle (yeah, fat chance on that within in the next couple of years), it will still take the skillful hands of a trained installer to integrate aftermarket devices to the vehicle in a safe and stylish manner.