There has been much discussion about which option is preferable and logical when a consumer is ready to purchase a GPS system for a vehicle. We will try to offer our opinions on the pros and cons for purchasing factory OEM GPS navigation vs. purchasing aftermarket GPS navigation systems.
Pros for purchasing a factory installed GPS navigation system
The over all appearance of a factory navigation system inset in a dashboard is more desirable then an aftermarket GPS unit. Sometimes it is difficult to find the proper location to place the aftermarket GPS unit on top of the dash or near the radio / AC Heater controls of the vehicle.
When purchasing a GPS system from the automotive dealer / manufacturer, the cost of the GPS system, no matter how expensive, can be included as part of the monthly payment if you wish to finance the vehicle. The consumer will not have to pay for the GPS system up front all at once.
Some OEM GPS system comes with additional sensing devices such as dead-reckoning features that are not found in most less expensive aftermarket portable GPS units. This feature will enhance the navigation system and improve accuracy when GPS signal is lost or not available.
Cons for OEM factory installed GPS navigation system
Once the consumer purchases a Factory GPS Navigation system as an option in a new vehicle, they will lose the ability to choose the additional features that certain aftermarket GPS navigation systems may have to offer, such as MP3 player, DVD player, reverse camera etc, which the OEM automotive manufacturer or factory may not have.
Factory navigation system mapping software is complied and package by the navigation manufacturers along with the navigation system before delivery to the automotive manufactures. We have found that most factory installed GPS navigation software comes with outdated mapping software; some by as much as 2-3 years. By the time a consumer purchases a new vehicle with the factory OEM navigation system, most likely an upgrade to the latest mapping software is available but not included with the purchase of the vehicle navigation system. Automotive dealers have little or no knowledge of how to obtain newer updated mapping software when asked. The automotive manufacture and dealers are in business to sell vehicles and not navigation systems and they have no interest of supporting your navigation system once consumers purchased the vehicle.
The map upgrades for the factory installed navigation systems are sold at a much higher price when and if they are made available to consumers. Normally at a cost of 300-400% of what an aftermarket update would cost; this alone can make the system obsolete since the cost of the update can be as much as 25-30% of the original cost of the OEM factory installed GPS system. Again, the automotive manufactures are not in the business of supporting navigation systems and they will mark up the update software to profit from this service should they chose to offer this type of product support. Some OEM manufactures may opt to discontinue support and update once the vehicle is a few years old much like the old Honda’s with the first and second generation GPS system that used PCMCIA memory cards and or CD’s for map data. These systems are no longer supported by the factory and the GPS systems in these vehicles are useless if the maps are outdated. In contrast, some after market GPS systems can be updated for as little as $99 a year.
The reason aftermarket accessories such as GPS systems, DVD players, and stereos are so popular, is generally they're a much better value for the money than the factory OEM product. Most factory installed add-ons are marked up for huge profits by the automotive manufacturers. The automotive manufacturer may opt to purchase from a GPS company, soon to be discontinued or outdated navigation systems, such as CD or DVD navigation systems, at a greatly reduce price of $300-$400 each, only to resell them to the consumer for $2,000 to $4,000 as standard equipped or a factory option. Most GPS systems these days use a computer hard drive with 20 GB of storage capacity. Yet most GPS systems that are offered in new vehicles are still utilizing DVD, or worse, a CD driven format. The difference in performance would be like comparing an 8-track tape sound system to a MP 3 player. Generally with aftermarket products, you as a consumer will be offered enhanced features, superior design, and greater performance for a much better value. If this weren't all true, the aftermarket manufacturers for automotive accessory systems would not exist. I submit the vast number of products in this market as a testament to the fact that these devices offer better value than the factory-installed OEM products.
The most troublesome restriction we have found with OEM GPS navigation systems is the inability to operate the system while the vehicle is moving! This is an issue for most customers, since they would like the option to operate the GPS Nav system, much like a radio or a cellphone, when the vehicle is in transit. In other circumstances the customers may want the option of being able to have a passenger operate the GPS system when the vehicle is in motion.
This option, which is available for aftermarket portable GPS systems, is not made available for the OEM installed GPS systems. The vehicle must be at a dead stop to operate the OEM GPS system.
This limitation alone can make one rethink the selection between choosing an OEM GPS navigation system or an aftermarket portable GPS system.
Another issue is that most car dealers understand electronics about as well as their average customers. They are in no position to either service or support the GPS systems that are equipped with the vehicle or sold as an option. It is a sideline for them. The specialists at Auto Nav 2000 Plus Inc. do this for a living. We know these systems. We understand them. We can answer your questions, and we can fix them!
You will have to take your vehicle back to a dealer for service for the factory installed GPS Navigation system if it should fail. You will lose the ability to use your vehicle when the dealer is repairing the factory GPS Navigation system. This will not occur with an aftermarket navigation system, just turn the navigation system in for service and drive your car away until the navigation system is repaired.
You will not be able to transfer factory in-car Navigation systems from one vehicle to another when you chose to use your 2nd vehicle or RV. Most aftermarket navigation systems are either portable or offer 2nd car navigation kits.
Factory Navigation systems are not portable, so you will not be able to take a factory Navigation system in an airplane for business or vacation trips. Currently, Magellan, Garmin, Tom Tom Go, Mio, Plink, Lowrance, Horizon, Sanyo, NavMan, Emerson, AvMap, Cobra, and Pronounced Audio navigation systems all offer portable navigation systems for the aftermarket retail segment at a fraction of the cost of an installed factory OEM system. Thus giving the aftermarket consumers the flexibility to purchase one unit and use it in a variety of other vehicles, like in a rental car while on trips.
Aftermarket navigation systems such as Magellan, Garmin, Tom Tom and NavMan now have European software capabilities as well. This means if you are going to travel in Europe, you will enjoy the same benefit as you would using the same GPS system in the U.S. You will be able to rent a vehicle in Europe and use your own navigation system, which is already familiar to operate, to get you where you’re going. This feature is NOT POSSIBLE for an installed OEM GPS system.
Consumers have the option to choose from several different LCD display sizes with Aftermarket Navigation systems. Some display sizes range from 2” to 7” and add on capability to interface for DVD, VCP, C/D Games, MP3 music and Reverse Cameras, etc. This is not an option or offered with most factory Navigation systems. Consumer only can buy what the factory has to offer in certain models, no choice or options for consumer to choose from.
Factory systems sometimes incorporate multiple vehicle functions into a multi task display monitor for Navigation, heating and A/C, and Radio CD changer selector etc. If any one of these system operations should become faulty, the complete system would need to be repaired which is most likely to be much more expensive than a single aftermarket GPS navigation system to repair.
Touch Screens are standard in most factory Navigation systems and is nice. Magellan, Garmin, NavMan, Tom Tom Go, Plink, Emerson and Lowrance currently also have touch screen functions that are included in their portable GPS navigation systems.
Factory Navigation systems are very costly compared to a high-end aftermarket GPS navigation system that offers many more features and options.
You must purchase a certain year, make and model of a High End vehicle to qualify to purchase one that is equipped with a GPS system and or as an option. This limits your choices to only a few certain higher-end vehicles that the factory has chosen to install navigation systems in. Buying an aftermarket navigation system gives you the option to purchase the vehicle you desire, and still enjoy a true high-end aftermarket GPS navigation system that you can use in many different vehicles!
Finally, In the Annual Auto Issue for Consumer Reports April 2001 issue, listed on page 8 under “The Worst” “Annoying. Audio, Climate, and navigation systems that fight for one screen. There’s no separate display for each; instead, you must go through the temperature setting, etc., to get what you want. Examples: Acura MDX, Honda Odyssey (climate and navigation only), Lexus RX300, and Mercedes-Benz ML430.”
Based on the above data, it is a clear choice for the well-informed consumer, who is looking for a GPS In-Vehicle Navigation system with the best value and options, to purchase an aftermarket GPS system!
After a consumer purchases a factory navigation system, it will stay with the vehicle upon resale. The seller usually will not see any extra value for additional accessories. When the consumer purchases an after-market navigation system the vehicle owner will be able to remove the navigation system, and install the after-market system into the new vehicle.