Chrysler, Sirius Introduce 'Backseat TV' With Kid
Mar 30, 2007
GROUP AND PARTNER SIRIUS Satellite Radio are bringing
the tube to minivans. The DaimlerChrysler unit will
offer Sirius Backseat TV--a product new to cars and
satellite providers--first to its minivans and then to
the Chrysler 300, Dodge Charger and Magnum, and Jeep
Commander and Grand Cherokee.
The feature, exclusive to Chrysler Group vehicles for
the first year, will initially carry content only from
Nickelodeon, Disney Channel and Cartoon Network.
William Mattingly, vice president of Chrysler's
engineering corps, says that until now, delivering
broadcast video to moving vehicles hasn't been feasible
because the capture antenna has to be obtrusively large,
and--as it does on one's house--always face whichever
geo-stationary satellite delivers content. He says
Chrysler and electronics provider Delphi solved that
problem via two hockey puck-sized antennae to be mounted
on a vehicle's roof.
The 2008 Chrysler Town and Country and Dodge Caravan
minivans, heading to showrooms late this summer, will be
the first beneficiaries.
The redesigned 2008-model minivans will also introduce
another industry first: Swivel 'n Go, which lends a
living-room quality to the rear cabin space. The feature
lets second-row chairs swivel to face third-row seat
occupants, and includes a table mount, coupled with a
removable surface so rear occupants can face each other
over a table. The table can be stowed when not in use.
The TVs are mounted on roof rails and can be moved fore
and aft. TV content can also play on the MyGIG screen on
the front console.
George Murphy, Senior Vice President/Director of
marketing for Chrysler Group, says the company will tout
Sirius Backseat TV as just one of several changes to the
new minivans. He said the technology will be highlighted
in marketing communications because it helps promote the
company as a technology leader.
"At the end of the day we want consumers to say--as they
did with Sto 'n' Go, 'I can't believe someone figured
this out'." Sto 'n' Go, introduced in 2004, allows quick
folding of second- and third-row seats completely into a
storage recess on the cab floor. When not in use, the
bins act as storage cubbies.
But Murphy adds that Chrysler will try to balance the
message so the Backseat TV feature is promoted as one of
a suite of information and entertainment options such as
the recently introduced MyGIG feature.
Consumers who opt for Sirius Backseat TV, for which
Chrysler will tack on $425, get the service for free for
the first year. After the initial year, the service is
$7 per month, when packaged with Sirius satellite radio,
which is $12.95 per month.
Murphy says Chrysler and Sirius worked on the program
together, as well as the initial content offerings. "We
have thought a lot about where entertainment is going,
and Sirius has been our partner in this," he says. "We
went with the three biggest providers of children's
Chrysler will tout the new minivans' features via
traditional advertising for the vehicles, plus a heavy
grassroots approach, something Chrysler did when it
launched Sto 'n' Go. "We are looking at theme parks,
malls, places that see a lot of families. I think people
need to get into the vehicle to experience it, so we
will do mobile tours and of course auto shows," he says,
adding that Chrysler is projecting about 30% of buyers
will opt for Backseat TV and about the same number will
take Swivel 'n' Go.
The minivan market, flat for the past several years and
holding at about 1 million units per year, is also a
"dumb-bell" market with about half the buyers
empty-nesters--and half, obviously, families. Murphy
sees an opportunity for Backseat TV principally among
echo-boomers, or millennials, who are now starting to
have kids. He says there will be more room in the market
since Ford and GM are fielding fewer minivans as they
focus on cars and crossovers.
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