Drive Time

Today's car can offer almost all the conveniences of home and work

focus is not so much on audio, but multimedia and navigation. People like to know where they’re going or have their car reroute them to get out of traffic or road construction. Most of our business for multimedia is 30 years old and up.”

The growth in the aftermarket industry has caused automakers to increase the technological options available to consumers before they leave the dealership.

“You’re already seeing that more cars are coming with navigational systems,” says Donnelly. He also points out that the majority of automakers use navigational systems designed by Alpine, a company that originated in the aftermarket. “Aftermarket is actually moving into the factory. They’re taking what a lot of us high-end installers have been doing for years and making them an actual factory option right out of the gate. They’re just charging twice as much for them.” Auto companies, in some cases, are also contracting exclusive deals with manufacturers.

Mercedes-Benz offers the Motorola V60 integrated hands-free phone system, with voice-activated capabilities. It offers voice recognition that enables the driver to use verbal commands to access speed-dial numbers for their phonebook and/or dial new numbers. It is not available through the aftermarket. The Volvo XC90 and S40 will offer Dolby 5.1 Pro Logic II surround system amplified by 12 speakers in their 2004 models. “The car industry is definitely catching on to what the general public wants in their cars.” Should that be of concern to aftermarket dealers? Not according to Donnelly. As technology continues to develop and evolve, so will the options for the ever-increasing appetites of car enthusiasts.

Before You Customize:Basic Guidelines for the Car Enthusiast
Make sure that the person [hired to work] on your car does quality work,&
quot; stresses Fowlkes. “The first system I had was trash. A person that I thought could do the work did all the wrong things.” In an industry that is not certified, word-of-mouth and research are crucial to receiving a successful customization job. “The Internet is a great place to educate yourself,” says Donnelly. “It doesn’t mean that the Internet is 100%, but it is a good learning tool, specifically on what’s available for your car.”

Fowlkes stresses the importance of having a plan. He suggests putting your dream list on paper before you get started — even if you can’t afford it at the time. “Plan out your entire system before you get started because there are things that will affect your decisions the moment you move forward,” he explains. “If you know you want a stereo and eventually a PlayStation, you will know to invest in a stereo that will accommodate a PlayStation. ” Shortsighted planning will cost you unnecessary spending in the long run.

When you find an install shop, have them go over the car physically and explain procedures and expenses before you buy anything, suggests Donnelly. “A lot of retail companies are concerned about what the end of the month’s sales look like. Tell them, ‘I’m not looking to do this right this minute. I’m just trying to get

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