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Is Onboard Navigation Finally Getting Affordable?

Majority of customers would choose built-in navi if it were less expensive.

by on Jul.08, 2011

Chevy cuts by half the price of navi on the Cruze. Will it set off a price war among makers and boost demand?

If you’ve ever gotten lost trying to find a friend’s new house or a well-reviewed new restaurant you’ll undoubtedly have wished for an onboard navigation system.  Portable “navis,” in fact, have become one of the hottest perennial holiday gifts.

Yet despite frequent surveys showing that a majority of motorists would like to get a car equipped with a built-in system, the technology is still only ordered on about one in ten new cars.  Why the big gap?  Cost, industry analysts agree.  Though the price of portable navigation systems have plunged in recent years, built-in systems remain one of the most expensive options you can add to a new vehicle.

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But that is starting to change, and makers like Chevrolet, which is slashing the price of navi on its 2012 Cruze, “will win” lots of new buyers “with a low-cost solution,” predicts George Peterson, head of the consulting firm AutoPacific, Inc.

“Manufacturers have their heads in the sand trying to protect the revenue model they’ve developed over the last decade,” said Peterson.  But high costs don’t really generate big profits, he contends, because it results in much lower sales volumes for onboard navi technology.