Inside The Fight To Keep AM Radio In Electric Vehicles

It's not just for cranking up your favorite news talk programs. Inside The Fight To Keep AM Radio In Electric Vehicles Giphy

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If you’ve been around for a while (like me) or you just enjoy listening to some good old talk radio once in a while (also like me), you’re probably already familiar with the AM frequency. Of course, it’s since been largely eclipsed by FM, and subsequently satellite radio, leaving those weaker frequencies largely relegated to obsolescence.

That’s why it might not be too surprising to learn that some electric vehicle companies are pushing a plan to eliminate AM receivers from new models. No big deal, right?

Not according to a growing number of safety officials. Here’s why they’re fighting to preserve AM radio in all new automobiles.

It can be a critical tool

Not only do millions of people still enjoy listening to it, but in the case of an emergency, AM radio is an ideal way for local authorities to share important updates.

For that reason, lawmakers and regulators alike are calling for automakers to continue providing easy access. A number of former FEMA administrators have reached out to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg in hopes that the current trend away from AM will be reversed.

What automakers are saying

According to U.S. Sen. Ed Markey of the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, at least eight automakers — BMW, Ford, Mazda, Polestar, Rivian, Tesla, Volkswagen, and Volvo — have already eliminated AM radio for new EV models.

While these companies and groups like Alliance for Automotive Innovation acknowledge that AM radio is one source of time-sensitive info, they say that newer tech like smartphones and built-in Bluetooth connectivity can provide similar access in an emergency.

As Markey pointed out, however, if internet access is out, those alternative communication sources would be useless.

The Massachusetts Democrat added: “The truth is that broadcast AM radio is irreplaceable.”

Chris Agee
Chris Agee March 15th, 2023
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