Trafficmaster made a strong start to 2004 with rising sales of its satellite navigation system, while its profitability is growing in line with expectations, the British journey-planning company reportedly said on Monday.

According to Reuters, the firm expects sales of its Smartnav satellite navigation aid in the first six months of 2004 to exceed the 9,414 units sold in the whole of 2003.

Smartnav, which tells drivers how to get to their destinations and avoid traffic jams along the way [using off-board data downloaded to the car on demand], is now offered as an approved accessory by 18 carmakers, including BMW, Ford, Rover and Suzuki and also is standard on certain models of Mitsubishi and Hyundai cars, the report added.

The company’s businesses of vehicle tracking and fleet tracking service in the United States also performed ahead of last year, it said, according to the news agency.

Analyst Carl Franklin of house broker Bridgewell Securities told Reuters the company’s agreement to provide navigation and tracking products to privately owned UK motor retailer Lancaster Plc offered huge potential for cross-selling opportunities.

This will be enhanced by a new version of Smartnav, due out later this year, which offers satellite navigation and vehicle tracking functions, putting Trafficmaster ahead of its rivals, Franklin reportedly said.

As announced in March, Colin Walsh took over on Monday as chairman from James McKinnon, who stepped down after 10 years, Reuters said, adding that Stuart Berman, currently chief operating officer, will replace chief executive David Martell in September when the firm publishes its interim results.