Bang & Olufsen Hits the Road

Danish audio-video manufacturer Bang & Olufsen has long been known for its unusual product designs. Eschewing the normal tendency of consumer electronics manufacturers to design their circuits and transports into stackable black boxes, the company's current home-audio line includes colorful vertical CD stacks with sliding clear-glass doors and brushed-aluminum cylindrical speakers.

On June 11, Bang & Olufsen announced that it has paired with American manufacturer and distributor Visteon Automotive Systems to develop a new line of audio products for the automotive market. The partnership is B&O's first venture into the automotive audio arena, while Visteon says the deal will allow it to offer specially designed audio systems to high-end vehicle manufacturers and their consumers. The companies say that this agreement is intended to couple Visteon's expertise in areas such as acoustics, system equalization, market research, and manufacturing with B&O's uniquely designed audio systems, which appeal to select consumers.

Jim Mazurek of Visteon says that "The Bang & Olufsen/Visteon audio system will be marketed to a particular customer---the customer who expects nothing less than excellence in performance, quality, and design. We have jointly identified and agreed upon the audio characteristics that must be present in a Bang & Olufsen/Visteon audio system. They are the characteristics a consumer would expect in the very best automotive audio system that is globally available. I think it is fair to say that purchasing a Bang & Olufsen/Visteon system will differentiate the true automotive audiophile from the typical consumer. The system from Bang & Olufsen and Visteon will be at the very top of the range."

According to the companies, significant design changes will differentiate these units from standard car-audio systems. A statement from Visteon says that the new products will "exhibit sophisticated designs that take their cues from the understated elegance of premier vehicle models. Visteon and Bang & Olufsen will explore the application of premier materials such as brushed aluminum to speaker grilles and radio bezels. These systems will offer enhanced components, such as unique speakers and improved woofers and superior audio clarity. They will also offer additional options to maintain audio system excellence as sound technology continues to mature."

Poul Sojberg of B&O states that "Bang & Olufsen is characterized by courageous design, simplicity, and high quality standards, and this Danish/American partnership will provide outstanding automotive multimedia systems for exclusive customers."