LAS VEGAS -- Hyundai has a surprise in store for music fans.
Over the next few years, Hyundai plans to remove CD players from mainstream cars such as the Elantra and Sonata as it rolls out an infotainment system called Display Audio that's built around Apple's CarPlay and Google's Android Auto interfaces.
Hyundai's strategy reflects the belief that customers are ready to get their maps and music from smartphones, rather than using car-based systems for those features.
By removing the disc drive, Hyundai will save money and space, said Michael Dietz, senior group manager for the connected car at Hyundai Motor America. Those savings will allow Hyundai to spend more freely on what customers are saying they want: a high-resolution display screen and access to the latest smartphone apps.
Aimed at reducing driver distraction, Android Auto and CarPlay are software packages that help connect the vehicle to the driver's smartphone and reflect auto-appropriate smartphone apps on the vehicle's display screen. Those apps can be controlled through the car's buttons and knobs and voice and touch controls, rather than with the phone.
"This is a way for us to give people a big screen, give them a rich delivery of content, and do it at a lower price that's available across more models," Dietz said.
Hyundai isn't the first automaker to ditch CD drives.
Some car models aimed at younger buyers, such as the Chevrolet Spark and Kia Soul, are already sold without a CD drive as even optional equipment. But no automaker has revealed a phaseout as rapid as the one Hyundai is planning.
Dietz said Hyundai plans to add Display Audio to multiple models this year. Within a few years, he said, the system will go into more than 60 percent of the cars Hyundai sells. Popular models such as the Elantra, Sonata and Santa Fe crossover will get the system as they are redesigned.
Customers will still be able to get a CD player in a bare-bones car lacking a touchscreen. They'll still find one in a top-of-the-line model, such as a $40,000 Genesis sedan. And in some models, a CD player will be bundled into a step-up trim package, which typically sells for $1,000 to $2,000.
But automakers are itching to eliminate CD players. They add unnecessary weight and cause problems for interior designers. Meanwhile, buying digital maps for on-board GPS systems can cost them hundreds of dollars per car. Dietz said Hyundai sees Android Auto and CarPlay as the best way to deal with the phaseout of the CD player and the growth of online streaming services.
"The audio market is becoming highly fragmented," Dietz said. "This is the best way to offer more content to customers."