Drive Time Goes Up, So Does Spending on Car Electronics

If you're like most Americans, you spend 17 hours a week in your vehicle. That's a lot of time behind the wheel, which is why 38 percent of the driving population is planning to buy and install a CE device in their ride this year.

It's not what you think. What's surprising about those numbers, compiled by the Consumer Electronics Association, is that it's no longer car audio or video that's leading the drive to aftermarket mobile electronics sales. The most sought-after product for 2008, according to the CEA survey, is a remote car starter of all things. Fifteen percent of respondents said they planned to buy a remote starter in the next 12 months, followed by in-dash navigation systems at 13 percent. Car alarms came in third at 12 percent.

People want aftermarket satellite systems, DVD systems, and HD Radio, too, but not as much. Maybe the sound quality and options available from factory entertainment packages have reached a level that most drivers are satisfied with.

Either that or they don't want to disrupt the interior. Consumers are also showing less inclination to permanently install CE products in their vehicles, according to the study. CEA analysts believe that shows a preference for products that can be switched out easily as technology changes.

"Cars that include solutions that make it easy to connect and power portable CE devices will do well with consumers," said a CEA spokesperson. Bring on the Bluetooth.--Rebecca Day