XM Satellite Radio Inc. is rolling out a product that will let buyers of some vehicles with Sirius Satellite Radio receivers pick up XM stations instead.
The product, which is being introduced at the National Automobile Dealers Association convention in Las Vegas this week, is aimed at BMW, Mini, Chrysler group and Ford Motor Co. dealers.
Consumers won't notice any differences in their vehicle's interior. The product, called XM Direct, is designed to be mounted behind the instrument panel or in the trunk.
XM Direct technology is contained in a black box about the size of a sandwich. It allows the factory radio displays in these vehicles to show XM's programming information, such as the song title and artist information.
XM Direct will cost $399, including installation, the company says. It will be ready for delivery to Ford and Chrysler dealerships in May. BMW and Mini dealers already are offering the product to consumers.
XM, which is based in Washington, says the product will give dealers and consumers a choice. Until now, consumers who bought vehicles with Sirius radios could only get Sirius programming, and consumers who bought vehicles with XM-equipped radios could only get XM programming.
Without XM Direct, BMW, Chrysler and Ford dealers who wanted to offer customers XM instead of Sirius would have had to install an aftermarket radio in the vehicle. Aftermarket satellite radios cost between $159 and $300, plus an installation fee of as much as $100.
Says XM spokesman David Butler, "This product allows you to look at the in-dash radio with the in-dash display screen." XM is the cheaper of the two services. XM charges $9.99 a month for its service, compared with $12.95 for Sirius.
XM ended 2003 with more than 1.36 million subscribers and says it expects to reach 2.8 million subscribers by the end of 2004. Sirius ended 2003 with 261,061 subscribers.
XM says it expects XM Direct to generate a significant number of subscribers but would not give a specific projection.
Sirius says that in the second quarter it will have a product that allows factory radios to accept Sirius signals. That product will target General Motors and Honda dealers. But Sirius does not expect the product to drastically change its mix of customers.