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by Tim Beissmann

For all of you considering grabbing your ‘Awesome Driving Songs Mix Tape’ cassette that you made in 1982, heading down to a dealer and sliding it in your new car, we’ve got some bad news.

The humble centre console-embedded cassette deck is officially dead in the US new car market, and as far as we know, the story is the same in Australia too.

The New York Times reported that there are no longer any new cars in the US that come equipped with a factory-fitted tape player.

The last one to fall, you ask? You will barely believe it when you read it.

It was the 2010 Lexus SC430 convertible. Production of the SC430 ceased in August last year, and the vehicle was still on sale in Australia until the end, with one sold in 2010.

The compact cassette was invented by Phillips in 1962 and it went into mass production in Germany in 1964.

From the 1970s to the 1990s it was the in-car audio format of choice, and even co-existed with compact discs for decades, such was its popularity and the world’s attachment to it.

But the CD finally won the battle thanks to its reduced tendency to wear, lower distortion and higher fidelity. All new cars now come with a CD player.

The question is just how long the CD will hold out before it too is confined to the automotive history books.

With the rise of iPods, iPhones and MP3 players, most cars now come equipped with some method of transferring digital playlists.

Auxiliary plugs, USB ports and Bluetooth wireless streaming are the latest formats destined to replace CD players.

It is only a matter of time before mainstream automotive manufacturers decide to retire the compact disc, and from there it’s decline will be rapid.

Whether it will be as fast as five years or more like 10 or 15 is still to be determined, but we suspect it could happen quicker than you expect.




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