The end of an era could be approaching, after Ford Motor Company announced their plans to replace CD players in all their future models with screens that allow access to streaming services and satellite radio.
Although this might come as a surprise to some, Ford is in fact ‘late to the game’, as many major car manufacturers already removed CD players some time ago. 2016 Toyota Scion and Honda Civic models did not feature CD players, and many other new car models launched in the last year only offered them as optional extras.
And this change certainly appears to be gathering pace. Research carried out by automotive market research company JATO Dynamics revealed that only 59% of models on sale today offer a CD player as standard, compared with 79% ten years ago.
So, why the sudden decision to ditch CD players in favour of music streaming services?
According to Simon Hucknall, Product PR Manager for Vauxhall, lack of demand is the reason. He explains: “People simply don’t carry 15 CD’s around in their car glove box with them anymore – instead they have hundreds or thousands of tracks on the device in their pocket.”
With streaming platforms like Spotify and Apple Music gaining millions of users per year, it looks like a simple case of moving with the times. Michael O’Brien, SUV Group Marketing Manager for Ford said: “Streaming is the fastest growing source of music and video content and particularly with younger consumers who we’ve found time and time again prefer streaming and subscription services over traditional forms like CDs.”
But will all automotive manufacturers be keen to quickly follow suit? Not necessarily…
Although CD sales might be falling in Western countries, there is still a high level of demand in the East. Digitalmusic.com recently reported soaring CD sales in Japan and South Korea, both prominent players in the automotive industry.
And by Ford’s own admission, these changes have been geared towards younger consumers, so is there a risk of alienating older consumers?
Writing for Forbes.com, contributor Hugh McIntyre commented: “New cars aren’t often purchased by young people obsessed with things like streaming music, but instead to older customers with the income necessary to own a new car. Those folks, at least in this point in time, may still have large CD collections.”
However, in Western countries, particularly the UK and USA, CD sales continue to decline and consumer demand for the latest technology grows. In a report by The Daily Mail, analysts predict that only 35% of cars worldwide will still include CD players by 2019.
It looks only a matter of time before CDs follow cassettes into the technological graveyard…
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Hugh McIntyre. (2017). It’s Time to Say Goodbye To The CD Player in New American Cars. Available: https://www.forbes.com/sites/hughmcintyre/2017/03/02/the-time-has-come-to-say-goodbye-to-the-cd-player-in-new-american-cars/#2663f6cc2e88. Last accessed 08/03/2017.
Daniel Adrian Sanchez. (2017). Ford Removes CD Players from Upcoming 2018 Vehicles. Available: http://www.digitalmusicnews.com/2017/03/02/ford-2018-streaming-consoles/. Last accessed 08/03/2017.
Sonari Glinton. (2017). Ford Replaces CD Player With Streaming Music In New Vehicle. Available: http://www.npr.org/2017/02/28/517779766/ford-replaces-cd-player-with-streaming-music-in-new-vehicle. Last accessed 08/03/2017.