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Bipartisan Bill Would Force Automakers To Keep AM Radio in New Cars
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Bipartisan Bill Would Force Automakers To Keep AM Radio in New Cars

With the advent of streaming services increasing numbers of people are shifting from turning the dial to tapping on the screen. Due to the declining number of listeners on terrestrial radio (and the necessity to cut the fat off manufacturing costs), automakers have been eliminating AM radios from their infotainment systems for quite a while but that is likely to be changed if lawmakers have their ways.

In the last week, the members of the bipartisan legislature at Capitol Hill introduced a bill to ensure automakers don’t abandon AM radios in their new vehicles. It’s called”the “AM Radio for Every Vehicle Act of 2023,” the bill will require car manufacturers to incorporate the necessary technology to allow vehicles to connect to stations that broadcast exclusively in AM band.

If the bill is passed will direct the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to make it mandatory for every automaker to include AM radios in all new cars. Additionally, the technology would be required to be provided at no cost to the customer. This means that the manufacturer will likely build costs into the car instead of charging consumers an additional fee for AM radio as an option.

To defend the law It’s not as if automakers haven’t thought about this option before. Indeed, Audi, BMW, Ford, Porsche, Tesla, as well as Volvo, have already eliminated AM radios from their most recent electric vehicles (and Ford even removed it from its newest model powered by ICE, the Mustang).

According to a study conducted in 2018 over half of people who listen to radio in the U.S. do so in the car when they commute and taking it out of the one spot where people are most likely to listen to will probably reduce listenership.

It’s not about listening or money, as per lawmakers. Instead, they say it’s about safety for the public. It’s not a surprise that AM radio has lost its position in the modern world due to the advent of FM radio. In addition, FM radio’s capability to offer more quality and bandwidth (and consequently, better quality) made it stand out from the older AM technology.

There is an important advantage: long-distance mass communications. AM transmits for greater distances in ideal conditions. We’re talking about hundreds of miles instead of the tens. This is where the issue of public safety is a factor.

Particularly, legislators believe they are concerned that, in case of catastrophe it will be difficult to send out mass messages without the capability for people to connect to the AM broadcasting channel. The former FEMA Director Craig Fugate once called it “the last line of communications” for state, local, and federal disaster relief and aid initiatives.

It’s also claimed that AM radio technology is so inexpensive that there’s no reason to remove it from cars. Automobile manufacturers argue that cost isn’t the only thing at play.
Cutting off AM radio would appear to be the most efficient choice when you are moving towards electric vehicles.

The spokesperson of Ford previously stated that the AM radio’s frequencies “tend to be directly affected by the electromagnetic noise in EV propulsion systems” and that it would require some “extra investment” to make AM radio functional within an EV. Other automakers, including General Motors, Hyundai, and Kia have demonstrated that it is possible to integrate AM in electric vehicles, but the price (or “extra investment”) for making it happen isn’t known.

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