If you haven’t bought a new car in the last 10 years, you probably aren’t familiar with the slightly unsettling fact that CD players are not exactly common anymore. Pop into a dealership lot and look through the windows of some cars, and you’ll see what we’re talking about. In the year 2021 A.D., few brands offer them anymore, and only one that still seems to like them: Lexus. A handful of GM vehicles have offered them in the past few years, mostly in its big SUVs. Most automakers view CD players as space-consuming and weight-adding options that steal room from other things that can fit into the center stack… if your vehicle still has a center stack that’s not consumed by a giant touchscreen. Really, though, automakers want them gone as well.
The death of the CD player began slowly about a decade ago, hitting a cliff about five years ago when the number of cars with factory-installed units seemed to dip sharply. By then, the medium had long since become a retro way to buy music, but the players lingered, much like cassette players that disappear until the mid-2000s.
The lag time is tied to who buys new cars in the first place, especially new luxury cars. Lexus owners might still have hefty CD collections and be much more likely to tote them along, so the automaker certainly has an incentive to offer it as an option.
Ultimately, it’s the smartphone that really spelled the death of CD players in cars, and the iPods that came before it. As soon as iPod-like functionality merged into the phone it was game over for CDs.
In a few years, the CD player will disappear altogether, orphaning all those Fleetwood Mac CDs tucked into sun visor folders the world over.
Do you still expect a CD player option in a new car? Let us know in the comments below.
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