Much More Than a Map
Dynamic Route Guidance systems are helping drivers stay out of traffic jams—and they're only available hard-wired
By Brett Solomon
Portable navigation units are increasing in popularity as prices erode and compelling new features are added. As a result, it almost has become a necessity for the specialty mobile electronics retailer to stock a few of them.
It's obviously difficult to compete against internet pricing of portable navigation units, but having a few on display allows the specialist to show the customer the awesome improvements in hard-wired installed navigation systems.
John Francioso of UltraSounds, a specialty dealer in Lynbrook, N.Y., sums it up best. "The portable units are getting better and better," he says, "but anyone who has ever used a navigation system that was installed in an OEM vehicle demands a hard-wired system."
HARD-WIRED HAS ITS ADVANTAGES
One of the easiest hard-wired navigation sales a dealer can make is to a customer who has an OEM navigation system in his or her daily driver sedan, but also wants navigation for the weekend sports car.
That customer knows the advantages of a hard-wired system, of course. But what about those customers who still aren't familiar with navigation systems? They may assume a portable unit priced under $700—one that doesn't require installation—will fit the bill. It's up to the dealer to step that customer up into a full-featured navigation system.
The rewards for the dealer are obvious: there's not only more margin on the product, but money can also be made on the installation.
That's not to say the portable units are bad.
For the money, it's hard to top the features of Magellan's RoadMate 700, for example. At $1,049.99 retail, it's among the best of the portables; it is one of the few units with a hard drive robust enough to hold road data for the entire nation. It even includes information on Canada without the customer having to download new maps for every trip to a new locale.