Garmin officially announced on September 20, 2023 that the company had completed the purchase of Miramar, Florida-based JL Audio. This was a bit of a shock to us to be honest. The terms of the deal were not disclosed, but a spokesperson for Garmin said in a press release that the brand name would be retained, along with all of the 600 workers currently employed by the company. But what should consumers expect to see from JL Audio in the future in terms of products, innovation and quality?
The news of the purchase by Garmin should be a boost to JL Audio, which will see its marine products fully integrated into the Garmin brand. Garmin is known as the world's leading global positioning systems creator. Garmin GPS is currently used by several car audio manufacturers, including Kenwood, and is factory-installed by automakers like BMW and Mercedes-Benz. But why are they moving further and further into the marine/automotive audio and sound system vertical? We're not strategists here but 1) GPS and multimedia have traditionally gone hand in hand. Just look at the head unit in a modern car – it combines the latest in GPS positioning and audio technology to create a rounded tech package. And 2) stand alone GPS systems are rapidly becoming obsolete with increasingly accurate smartphones, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. So this is likely a diversification effort by Garmin to ensure that they don't become obsolete themselves.
JL Audio was a privately-held company but now joins publicly-traded Garmin, which saw its stock value jump to $108 per share following the announcement of the purchase. It is the second-highest value this year and only eclipsed by the peak of $108.40 achieved in August 2023 when news leaked that the company was seeking the purchase.
The purchase will allow Garmin to expand its infotainment options and bring JL Audio's high-end technology and manufacturing processes to the company. JL Audio builds home and car audio equipment, including amplifiers, speakers, head units, and marine products. They are best known for their hard-hitting car subwoofers and home theater products, many of which we've come to love and respect over the past two decades here at CarAudioNow.
Garmin says there will be no interruption in manufacturing. Changes to the product lines currently available are likely to come, but there is no clear timeline for when the integration of JL Audio technology and Garmin technology will occur. And there is really no clear understanding of how this acquisition is going to impact JL Audio's long-standing reputation for innovative car and marine audio products that have made them a household name.
We're particularly interested in how Garmin will integrate JL Audio's technology into their broader product strategy and business without killing the culture and innovation that JL Audio brought to the automotive and marine stereo world – world class speakers, subs, amps and beyond. In 2014, Garmin purchased Fusion Audio, and although we've reviewed many of Fusion's products and integrated systems for boats, we can't help but wonder how the various brands that Garmin has purchased will ultimately end up playing together without cannibalizing themselves. JL Audio has historically been among the pinnacle brands that have re-defined the standard of aftermarket automotive and marine products. As one of the many brands that Garmin has gobbled up, we can't help but ask ourselves – how will this change the JL Audio that we know and have grown to love for their innovation, quality and dedication to consumers?