McIntosh Labs Is Elevating the Car Audio Experience with the 2021 Jeep Grand Wagoneer
As we near the end of 2020, car companies have started rolling out their 2021 models. One of these is the 2021 Jeep Grand Wagoneer, custom-fitted with McIntosh Labs audio. McIntosh Labs has long been known for its home audio systems, but three years ago, the audio company decided to make a play in the car audio space, McIntosh Group’s co-CEO Jeff Poggi told Worth.
“Branded car audio systems are quite a mature industry now, almost 40 years old, and McIntosh has really never played in that space, just a limited capacity back with a Ford GT, years ago or so,” Poggi said. “But we never really entered that space, and we felt like it is a really good opportunity for us that we had a real good brand, we have the technology and the capabilities, and we thought we could really deliver an amazing authentic brand experience in a car.”
McIntosh systems have been featured in cars prior to the new Grand Wagoneer. In 2002, the company decided to expand into the vehicle audio market for the first time, working with Harley Davidson to create the riser mount radio, and just a year later, McIntosh designed a custom sound system for the 100th anniversary Ford GT, as Poggi mentioned. So then what led McIntosh to Jeep?
“It was really all about that brand fit and trying to find a brand that would really represent our brand DNA in the right way and do it in a collaborative fashion. So, Jeep was really top on our list,” Poggi said. “We’re an American brand with a 70-plus-year history. Jeep is the most American of car brands. And we’re really proud of that sort of designed in America, made in America—rugged, durable, long-lasting—brand pillars that McIntosh represents, of course with a high-performance characteristic as well. And when we sat down and looked at the Jeep brand pillars, it was like almost a perfect one-to-one match, and you know their brand is really perfect for us.”
When they brought up the idea to Ralph Gilles, head of design for FCA Group, which owns Jeep, he agreed.
“He loved the design aesthetics of McIntosh, such as the strong look and the feel of the brand, and the heritage and premium nature and felt that the Grand Wagoneer, which they were just starting to conceive four years ago at this time, would be like a perfect fit because it’s the best of the best of the Jeeps, you know, it’s the pinnacle of what their brand is going to bring to the market,” Poggi said. “And so, it really felt like it was a great opportunity to collaborate and work together.”
One of the most exciting aspects of this collaboration, Poggi said, is that the audio system McIntosh created for the Grand Wagoneer is unlike anything the company has created before.
“It’s all brand new. Nothing, none of the components that exist in this concept car existed three years ago. So, everything has been custom designed. We looked at every loudspeaker and custom-designed the requirements for that loudspeaker individually to work in this particular location in the vehicle,” said Poggi, who had worked on car audio systems for 20 years before joining McIntosh. “Every product was uniquely designed based on where it was going to go, how it was going to work with the vehicle, how it was going to interact with the other products. And we did this using some core McIntosh technology that we’ve…we can see it originally in our own products, and we were able to translate that into automotive variants because obviously the products we design today are being are made for the living room. The speakers and amplifiers and preamps that we develop are not to go in a car. So, we took design concepts and created these automotive variants really from scratch for this vehicle.”
While Poggi says that the McIntosh sound system might not be the reason someone purchases the car, it could be one of the aspects consumers love the most, as studies have shown that people listen to music most in their cars.
“I think for the Grand Wagoneer, McIntosh is going to deliver an amazing live sound experience to [Jeep’s] consumers. It’s going to be a surprise and delight factor that most consumers have not had a chance to engage with. When they get into that vehicle and turn it on, it’s going to be a goosebump-generating experience. It’s not the reason they’re buying the car, but it’s going to be one of the reasons they love the car. We know that the number one place that people listen to music is actually in your car…and so having the ability to have an amazing sound experience in your vehicle that you’ve just purchased is really going to give people just that extra level of ownership and loyalty to Jeep, satisfaction with the brand purchase. You know, for some it may be one of the bragging features about why they bought the car, and something that they can show off because it’s going to not only sound amazing, but it’s going to look amazing.”