Major technology manufacturers enter digital radio car conversion market
Two of the UK’s leading technology manufacturers, Nextbase and Roberts Radio, and the leading car servicing business, Halfords Autocentres, are entering the digital radio car conversion market by launching a range of digital radio adapters and a new fitting service, it was announced at a major radio industry conference, Drive to Digital 2017, at the British Museum today.
Speaking at the conference, which was attended by 250 industry executives including audio and radio manufacturers and retailers, vehicle manufacturers and broadcasters, Nextbase, the UK's market-leading automotive technology manufacturer and Europe’s best-selling dash cam brand, and Roberts Radio, the UK market- leader in portable radios, unveiled new digital radio adapters, while Halfords Autocentres outlined a new approach to fitting digital radio adapters.
Nextbase is introducing two new DAB products this autumn: the Nextbase ADAPT DAB250 and the Nextbase ADAPT DAB350BT, with the latter with the additional benefits of Bluetooth and hands-free. Both in-car DAB adapters can be either self-fitted or garage-fitted and will be available in Halfords from 16 October for £99 (ADAPT DAB250) and £129 (ADAPT DAB350BT), and are Digital Radio Tick Mark approved.
Richard Browning, Sales Director, Nextbase, who announced the launch at Drive to Digital, said, “Nextbase is one of the most successful and fastest growing automotive technology brands in the UK. We see a real opportunity to become a market-leading brand in the emerging market for digital radio car adapters and are looking forward to the Autumn launch of the Nextbase DAB Adapt range in partnership with Halfords.”
Halfords Autocentres, the UK’s leading MOT and servicing specialists, announced that they will be introducing a pilot digital radio upgrade service featuring the Nextbase DAB Adapt range in their centres in Surrey this Autumn, ahead of a national launch across their 315 centres in the New Year.
Announcing the new initiative at the conference, Stefan Warhaftig , Commercial Director, Halfords Autocentres, said: “Our sister company Halfords is already the UK leader in digital car conversions and Halfords Autocentres can make the fitting of digital radios in-car even more convenient by offering to upgrade anyone’s car radio to digital when they book a service or MOT. We are delighted to be part of the Go Digital pilot in Surrey this Autumn and will look to planning an expansion of the service nationally next year.”
Additionally, radio market-leaders Roberts Radio announced that they would be entering the automotive market for the first time with the launch of a Roberts Radio digital radio car adapter.
Giving conference attendees first-sight of the new car adapter which will be formally launched later this year, Owen Watters, CEO, Roberts Radio, said: “Roberts is well-established as a market-leader in digital radios in the UK with a reputation for quality and innovation. Given the increased consumer demand across Europe to receive DAB digital radio in car we are bringing all the Roberts expertise and know-how into the car adapter market. We are confident that the Roberts digital car adapter will be recognised as best in class with the outstanding level of reliability and performance associated with any Roberts’ product.”
The digital radio car adapter market across Europe has been significantly boosted by the Norwegian switchover, the first in the world, which is underway and completes at the end of this year; the planned Switzerland switchover which is scheduled for 2020; and the UK’s on-going digital radio progress.
The conference heard from Ole Jørgen Torvmark, CEO of Digital Radio Norway, who said that the country’s switchover is running on time and to plan, with the majority of Norwegians taking action to receive digital radio in their cars. He projected that almost one million cars will be converted to digital when the switchover programme is complete.
In a video interview shown at the conference, Matt Hancock MP, Minister of State for Digital, indicated “there will be a switchover at some point” but emphasised the need to proceed carefully and ensure everyone has the chance to transition to the new technology. Mr Hancock highlighted the progress in new cars, with nearly 90% now coming with DAB as standard.
There are still 25 million cars on the road in the UK that do not have digital radio with drivers unable to access the extra stations available on DAB. In major markets, such as Greater London where there are up to 100 stations available, drivers without digital radio are missing out on 70% of the available stations. Upgrading their cars to digital radio would give millions of UK drivers access to the popular digital stations they enjoy at home, such as BBC 6 Music, BBC Radio 4 Extra, BBC Radio 5live sports extra, Absolute 80s, Kisstory, Heart 80s,Virgin Radio, LBC, Kiss and Magic which are only nationally available on digital radio.
Laurence Harrison, Market Development Director, Digital Radio UK, said: “It’s clear that drivers and passengers want to listen to the full range of digital stations in their cars so we welcome the launch of a wider range of adapters from leading technology brands, as well as a more convenient way to have a digital radio adapter fitted. These initiatives and the industry investment in car conversion can establish car adapters as an important automotive category alongside satnavs and dashcams.”