In-dash CD players are finally going the way of Razor scooters, shell necklaces and Ja Rule. Automakers have predicted this for the better part of the past decade as car stereos augmented the standard CD player with auxiliary MP3 jacks, USB/iPod connectors and, eventually, streaming Bluetooth audio. As far back as late 2011, market researcher NPD Group said nearly a third of people listened to music in their cars via smartphones or MP3 players. And this year, J.D. Power’s Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout Study found that as many people listen to CDs as external devices, like an iPod or a smartphone. In past APEAL studies, more drivers still listened to CDs.
It’s already happening, and not just in tech-heavy cars like the Tesla Model S. Opt for the 8.4-inch multimedia touch-screen in a 2013 Dodge Dart, and the CD player goes into the center armrest — a spot that underlines just how many drivers Dodge expects to use it. Up-level versions of the all-new 2014 Jeep Cherokee and redesigned Grand Cherokee, meanwhile, forego CD players entirely. You can still get one, but it goes in the center armrest or glove compartment. Chevrolet’s 7-inch MyLink touch-screen in the 2014 Sonic eliminates the CD player altogether. And in the 2014 Kia Soul and 2013 Chevrolet Spark, you can’t buy a CD player in any trim.
Are we just a few years away from CD players becoming extinct? And what are car designers doing with the free space?