The in-car CD player is officially on the way out, with Ford Motor Co. in the US confirming it will phase out bulky CD changer units at the end of the 2011 model year.
Not only are CD stackers off the menu, but Ford also insists in-dash units will be resigned to the history books sooner than some might think.
After an interview with Ford’s director of electronics engineering, Jim Buczkowski, US publication The Car Connection predicted in-car CD players could be gone from selected vehicles by 2015.
Mr Buczkowski described the dashboard as “Manhattan real estate” and said the shift away from CD players would not only save money and reduce build complexity for manufacturers, but would also free up space for more expressive systems like bigger LCD display screens.
Systems that connect with drivers’ portable MP3 players like auxiliary jacks, USB ports, internal hard drives and Bluetooth wireless streaming are rapidly becoming standard features on even the most inexpensive vehicles (Bluetooth audio streaming is standard on the $13,990 Hyundai Getz in Australia).
Ford’s current SYNC system incorporates a large touch screen with Bluetooth and voice control functionality, and in the case of the Lincoln MKX, its ‘media hub’ contains two USB ports for increased versatility.
Playing a song is as simple as saying “Play Billy Joel: Piano Man”, making sorting through CDs and tracks an antiquated and obsolete task.
Mr Buczkowski admitted certain demographics (read ‘older customers’) were likely to still want CD players in their cars, and he said Ford was currently considering how it would handle the phase-out period. One option would be to offer CD players as a dealer-installed aftermarket option.
Earlier this year, we reported that the CD player’s predecessor, the tape deck, had almost been completely phased out of new cars, with the Lexus GS one of the only models still to offer the technology.
Clearly the CD player is next, and if Ford US has its way, its removal is likely to be even swifter than the cassette.