WASHINGTON -- The compact disk player has begun the long slow fade-out from cars.
But unlike other automotive anachronisms - think CB radios or hideaway headlights - the CD player is making an agonizingly drawn-out exit despite more convenient ways to bring music to cars -- such as smartphones, iPods or other players, streaming and other technologies -- rapidly taking its place.
In the meantime, there is a trend in cars still offering CD slots to banish from prominence on dashboards and hide them away as options in spaces often more associated with parking meter change or packages of tissues.
The disappearance of the CD player from the dash is happening not just in tech-heavy cars like the Tesla Model S or tiny cars cramped for space like the Smart. Among others:
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, 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. Order a Cadillac with the CUE infotainment system and the CD is banished to the center armrest or glove compartment.
In the 2014 Kia Soul and 2013 Chevrolet Spark, you can't buy a CD player in any trim.
The new 2014 Mazda3 moves the CD slot down the dash stack to the center console level. But with two USB ports for mobile devices or thumb drives, Mazda officials don't see CD slots lasting much longer. "Eventually, it will be pulled from ours," predicts David Matthew, a Mazda marketing official.
Of course, the reason for the long goodbye is obvious: mountains of CDs accumulated over the years by owners unwilling to see their collections destined for the high-tech trash bin. "There's so much investment in our CD catalog," says Mike VanNieuwkuyk, executive director of global automotive for J.D. Power and Associates, which released findings of a study earlier this year that shows a drop-off in CD listening while driving.
The survey found external devices such as iPods or smartphones have pulled even with CD players as listening devices in cars. Automotive designers are shedding no tears for the embattled CD.
They're already using the space it occupied for larger center stack screens. "The center stack is such precious real estate," says Klaus Busse, Chrysler's interior design chief. "Every millimeter, not just every inch, counts."
And the slot for pushing in disks, is not the only space issue caused by the player in the electronics-packed center stack. Busse says all the components in that area generate heat and take up room behind the scenes, affecting, for example, the routing of air-conditioning ducts. Cluster them too close together, and you complicate packaging or risk overheating.
"If you don't have to worry about this CD-player brick, you have much more flexibility," he says.
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