DETROIT – Continental AG’s Frank Homann got about 150 phone calls last year after Ward’s quoted him as saying car CD players soon will head into obsolescence like tape decks before them.

“It sparked a big discussion,” Homann, Continental vice president-North American interior electronics solutions group, says at the Ward’s Auto Interior Show this week.

A lot of interiors engineers called to agree with him. Many say they won’t miss disc players in cars because their internal workings take up disproportionate space in a premium front-and-center location where equipment competes for space.

Based on those conversations and additional trend tracking, Homann says he is surer than ever that the CD days are numbered.

“They are going away,” he says. “The question is when. It won’t be in 2010, but by 2016 most CD players will be out of cars.”

CD sales have been off by double-digits in recent years as consumers switch to MP3 players with music download capability. More and more vehicles are being equipped with MP3 player adapters.

“Forty-eight percent of U.S. teens didn’t buy a CD in 2007, yet they did billions of music downloads,” Homann says. “By 2011, about 28 million cars will be equipped for MP3 players.”

sfinlay@wardsauto.com