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The best stereos for your car
Sangeeta Singh
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August 22, 2005

If you have just bought a Bang & Olufsen, a Bose or a Philips music system for your home, but grudge the fact that you have not been able to listen to your collection of old classics and jazz DVDs that you bought because you could not find time, how about carrying those DVDs in your car?

And to replicate the experience of the home stereo experience in your car, why not splurge on a brand new Blaupunkt car stereo? Now, to help you check out the ideal Blaupunkt set for your car, just check out the exclusive Blaupunkt store in your city that permit them to check out the quality of the sound on its stereos.

Though most listeners might have to wait a bit longer for their neighbourhood Blaupunkt stores, the ball has been set rolling with the first one now open in Delhi's Lajpat Nagar.

The company plans to have 25 brand shops all over India by the close of this calendar year, and 35-40 by 2006. The next one is soon going to come up in Bangalore. Till recently, Blaupunkt products were sold through multi-product retail outlets.

This strategy is primarily aimed at making Blaupunkt a household name in India where the in-car entertainment industry is growing at 13 per cent. Blaupunkt claims the company's Indian business is growing at 21 per cent.

Click here for the best deals on car stereos

"Of the 3.1 per cent of the after market global sales that come from the Asia-Pacific region, India is on top, contributing one-third of sales from this region," says Albert Hieronimus, managing director, Motor Industries Co (MICO) that markets Blau-punkt products in India under licence from Blaupunkt GmbH, Germany.

With a global sales of $1.7 billion, Blaupunkt mostly sells its car entertainment products to original equipment manufacturers (OEM). Over 85 per cent sales come through this route.

However, in emerging markets, which are usually also price sensitive markets, the company has largely banked upon the after-market route.

Though Blaupunkt is in active talks with car companies to be their OE suppliers, as of now it has such arrangements only with General Motors (India) and Tata Motors [Get Quote] for its passenger cars.

The company claims that in the future it is looking at a mix of both after market and OE routes depending on how the Indian markets mature.

And for the price sensitive Indian market, the company has also adopted a strategy of upgradation at different stages.

"The customers can buy the basic unit and then upgrade the surround sound system later or in stages," says Vedat Gurgeli, general manager, sales and marketing, Blaupunkt Asia Pacific.

At an entry level price of Rs 8,450 for an MP3 player, the DVD players are available for Rs 39,990 and those with a TV screen go up to Rs 1 lakh. In this scenario, it makes sense for those on a shoestring budget to upgrade Blaupunkt products and accessories as they go along.

"This also makes business sense to Blaupunkt," says Gurgeli. The company sees itself as a clear number two in rank based on a survey that it did before getting into the brand shop format.

However, with car companies themselves cutting margins in order to give the best deals to price sensitive Indian customers, will customers get drawn towards high-priced Blaupunkt products?

For there are Sony and Philips models available for at least a couple of thousand less at the entry level. Besides, there are also other premium products by Nippon and Kenwood.

"We are quite clear that we are not in the price-undercutting game. The world over we are recognised for our quality and we will remain premium in India as well," says Hieronimus.

Perhaps a visit to the new Blaupunkt store will help you make up your mind.

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