Thursday, May 10, 2007

In-Car Navigation Systems Very Costly

Autoblog pointed us to a Kicking Tires post that cited this USA Today article. Basically, the value of in-car navigation systems depreciates quickly. People looking to buy used cars aren't willing to pay up for the technology.

I think this rapid depreciation is due to a few things:
  • In-car nav systems aren't really worth the $2000 or so dealers charge for them as options on new cars. The evidence: you can find nearly-comparable portable devices for about a third as much. Is it worth paying 3 times more than the cost of a portable GPS device to have it permanently affixed to your car?
  • Portable devices offer advantages over in-car systems. Namely, you can take them with you wherever you go. Going on a trip? Bring the portable for your rental car. You can use it for navigating unfamiliar streets as well as finding restaurants and attractions as you walk around town. Going overseas? Update your portable device with an overseas map set / data set and enjoy the benefits there as well. Also, if you buy a new car, you don't have to give up your portable GPS device, like you would an in-car system.
  • As James Clark in the USA Today article says, used car buyers might be more interested in finding a bargain than in finding a car with the latest technology. Furthermore, if you're looking to buy a used car that's, say, 3 years old, that in-car nav system is already 3 years outdated. I don't think I'd pay up for that either.

For what it's worth, I've got a nice little Garmin nuvi. I've found it very handy navigating the streets in my new town as well as helping me find what I'm looking for when travelling. It's very useful--more useful, in fact, than an in-car system that I couldn't take with me while traveling.

For my money, the portable GPS devices offer more functionality and usability for about a third the cost of in-car systems.

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