/ Motoring, Technology

Ford ejects in-car CD players – will you miss them?

In-car cd player

The death of physical music CDs has been well-documented and long-predicted. So is it really such a surprise that Ford has announced that it’s going to phase out in-car CD players?

The car manufacturer said recently that it plans to eventually ditch the discs and concentrate on its new Sync system, which it says will let you connect your mp3 player to your car’s sound system – either through a cable or wireless connection.

And as long as the Sync system doesn’t ramp up the cost of a car, I don’t think this is necessarily a bad idea.

All the right connections

One of the first things I do when I get into a car is try to connect my iPhone to the stereo systems. I’m not too fussy about how I do this, whether it’s through a USB plug or via a wireless Bluetooth connection (which Ford currently uses pretty extensively).

Using a headphone jack is ok, but it’s not quite as useful as the previous two methods, as you can’t operate the device through your car’s controls. You just have to stick it on shuffle and hope that what’s selected isn’t too cringe-worthy.

But having access to all my music on my iPhone is a very nice luxury, and a big improvement over the days when I carried a stash of about 20 CDs in the car all the time – not least because I don’t have to worry about getting my collection nicked (my iPhone stays with me, not the car).

So I’m not exactly concerned about Ford’s moves to ditch CD players.

Shock move or gradual change?

However, if you are a driver that uses CDs should you be miffed about the change? Er, no.

I’ve spoken to Ford about this and it said that it’s simply gearing up to respond to customer demand, which has shown a clear trend away from CDs and toward digital music players. Moreover, Ford told me that the move will take quite a long time – in fact, it couldn’t even give me a date for when CD players would actually disappear.

I’m not just swallowing the PR waffle on this – think about how long car manufacturers have been trumpeting the arrival of DAB radio. Only now is this starting to become a standard feature on mainstream cars.

Plus, a car’s spec doesn’t tend to change too much during its lifetime. The latest Focus has only just launched, and the previous version was on sale for six years in total. So, taking all of that into consideration, I think it’s unlikely that CDs will disappear completely from Fords until about 2017, at the earliest.

Will we even be buying CDs, let alone care about in-car CD players, in 2017? I’m not convinced – but what about you?

Should car manufacturers ditch CD players?

No (66%, 123 Votes)

I don't care (18%, 33 Votes)

Yes (17%, 31 Votes)

Total Voters: 186

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Phil says:
9 August 2011

The cynic in me says this is just a ploy to cut costs.

Can’t remember the last time I played a CD in the car – we’d have to go and get them out of the loft for a start! Doesn’t worry me at all as long as there is a way to play the iPOD through the speakers, but I do wish my car had a digital radio…

CD players are fine as long as they play data cd’s, then you can load it up with mp3’s and you don’t have to be fiddling around with wires and connectivity.

I think it’s a bad assumption that everyone will have an mp3 player, considering the reach of ford products (mass market) I think this is simply a cost saving measure.

So will it be necessary to carry a portable player? I don’t use one and surely it would be unsafe (& illegal) to control many portable players/phones whilst driving? It would cost little more to provide a player in the car, then I would want to press a couple of buttons to transfer my own audio into it from my portable or home music system!

I have a good quality hifi in the house and can identify quite a few low bitrate MP3 recordings. I continue to buy CDs simply because downloads of the same quality are not yet available. So at the moment it’s easy for me to use a car CD player. But I do miss the 10 CD autochanger I had in my last car.

DanielCake says:
10 August 2011

CD’s for the win. Always use them when I’m in the car as it’s easier than bothering to sync up my ipod or something – which I can’t control using the steering wheel.

John Symons says:
10 August 2011

Forget this mp3 player rubbish. Keep the CD player and GIVE US A DIGITAL RADIO

I agree with John, but lets have radios that receive FM radio and DAB.

My car’s entertainment system includes a memory card slot. I can load a memory card with a lot of content & control it via the steering wheel. If the car gets stolen, all you have lost is a memory card.

Phil says:
10 August 2011

…and the car.

Having once had a lot of music on cassettes, I found it a real pain when car manufacturers stopped fitting cassette players. So now they are proposing to do the same with CDs. It’s all a ploy to get us to buy our music all over again in a different format, and to sell us new equipment, and we fall for it every time. It is the same with DAB radio replacing FM; digital TV replacing analogue and so on. Why can’t we stick with a technology that works.

Wax cylinders would not have been replaced by single-sided shellac gramophone records if everyone rejected change. 🙂

Convenience and versatility can be more important than audio quality.

There’s no reason why we can’t have it all, convenience, versatility AND audio quality. Mind you, most people have never heard a good audio system.

Very true, though most people would prefer to make some sacrifice to save money. Cars cost enough, car audio systems are pricey, and cars are not exactly a quiet environment in which good quality can be appreciated.

Most people don’t listen to music that will benefit from a good audio system. Oops – maybe that’s a bit provocative. 🙂

Russ says:
12 August 2011

Won’t be buying a Ford any time soon then, prefer Vauxhall’s anyway

Sophie Gilbert says:
16 August 2011

Ditch the CD player and have a USB socket instead that can read a memory stick with your music on it.

I drive a classic car and I don’t want the music to stop just because it doesn’t have a DAB radio. The same applies to my modern car too. Digital’s fine for TV but I for one don’t want it for radio. Plus I have traditional radios all over the house, am I going to have to ditch them all because of DAB? No thanks.

I suppose it was always going to come but would it be that hard to keep a CD slot in the car? Its not like it takes up much room. Not all manufacturers are doing it. Toyota’s new Prius launched in 2009 has a feature to rip music from a disc onto a hard drive like a computer.

Don’t worry Alan, FM won’t disappear in the near future. It seems to be a matter of whether, rather than when.
I believe that in July 2010 Ed Vaisey, Communications Minister, stated…
“The purpose of this Action Plan is not to implement a transition to digital radio, but to provide the information to allow for a well-informed decision by Government on whether to proceed with a radio switchover. Following a decision to proceed, this Action Plan would enable Government to decide when and how to deliver a radio switchover and set the foundations for a successor project to implement it.”

Agreed, this is a pure cost cutting ploy that will not be passed on to the potential buyer anyway. My 05 Avensis has a Cassette player which I still use as well as the CD player that also plays mp3 CD’s I make on my home PC as well.

Claymore says:
7 June 2012

This is an age gap problem, as most of my friends in my age group (73) still struggle and I mean struggle with CD’s and none of them have Ipods, but I personally fill CD’s with MP3 tracks and would enjoy connecting my Ipod to a wireless car system.
Compared to winding and rewinding the old cassette tapes, anything new is a plus!