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April 15, 2024
Technology

Ford to keep AM radio in cars after pressure from lawmakers


Ford has reversed its decision to build new vehicles without AM radio after pressure from lawmakers.

CEO Jim Farley wrote in posts on Twitter and LinkedIn Tuesday that AM radio will be included on all 2024 Ford and Lincoln Motor vehicles, a decision the executive came to “after speaking with policy leaders about the importance of AM broadcast radio as part of the emergency alert system.”

Last week, a bipartisan group of federal lawmakers introduced a bill calling on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to require AM in new vehicles at no additional cost. Sponsors of the “AM for Every Vehicle Act” have argued that AM radio has historically helped transmit crucial information during emergencies, particularly to rural areas.

The act was prompted by many automakers’ decisions — including Ford, Tesla, BMW, Volkswagen and Mazda — to remove AM radio from their new electric cars. The companies said electric engines can interfere with the sound of AM radio stations.

“I would think that if Elon Musk has enough money to buy Twitter and send rockets to space, he can afford to include AM radio in his Teslas,” said Rep. Josh Gottheimer from New Jersey, the lead House sponsor of the bill, in a statement last week. Instead, Elon Musk and Tesla and other car manufacturers are putting public safety and emergency response at risk.”

On Tuesday, in response to Ford’s announcement to keep AM radio, Gottheimer called out Tesla again, as well as other automakers, to follow Ford’s lead and “realize how important AM radio is the backbone behind America’s National Public Warning System.”

“When the cell phone runs out, the internet gets cut off, or the television doesn’t work because of no electricity or power to your house, you can still turn on your AM radio,” he said.

Ford had already removed AM from the 2023 Mustang Mach-E and the F-150 Lightning electric pickup after data collected from the vehicles showed that less than 5% of customers listened to it, according to a Ford spokesperson. Due to the electrical interference, it just made sense to remove it from future vehicles. Ford also took AM radio out of the 2024 gas-powered Mustang, but plans to add it back before any of the vehicles are delivered.

Farley said Ford will offer a software update to EVs on the road today without AM broadcast capability.

The executive notably did not promise to keep AM radio in its vehicles in perpetuity. In his social media posts, Farley said Ford “will continue to innovate and to deliver even better in-vehicle entertainment and emergency notification options in the future.”

The Alliance for Automotive Innovation, a trade group that represents major automakers, criticized the bill and said the AM radio mandate was unnecessary.

“Whether or not AM radio is physically installed in vehicles has *no bearing* on the ability of drivers to receive emergency alerts across multiple modes of communication available in automobiles manufactured today,” the group said via tweet.

According to Nielsen data, more than 80 million people in the U.S. listen to AM radio monthly.




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