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BMW Won’t Revisit AM for Electric Models

SCBA Engineering Group to offer help proceeds

The Southern California Broadcaster’s Association is going ahead with an engineering group to offer to help BMW solve its AM interference problem in new electric vehicles.

That’s after BMW told the National Alliance of State Broadcasters Associations and NAB the automaker doesn’t intend to revise its decision to leave AM radio out of its i3 and i8 electric vehicles. In similar letters to both organizations, BMW Manager of Business Communications Kenn Sparks writes that BMW “values the relationship we have with radio stations across America. We provide our customers with many listening options while in their cars but we know that radio is among the most favored choices.”

He notes that BMW was the first automaker to offer HD Radio and the first OEM to make HD Radio standard equipment in all models.

The BMW Group — BMW, Mini and Rolls-Royce — sold “more than 375,000 vehicles in the U.S.” last year, and every one included AM/FM radio, according to Sparks. “Only the i3 and i8 will not include AM because the interference from the electric motor would make the quality of AM broadcasts far less than a premium listening experience,” according to Sparks.

The automaker believes the listening options built into the i3 and i8, including HD Radio, satellite radio and BMW Connected Drive “will satisfy the much of the AM desires of our customers,” notes the spokesman, who adds that HD Radio offers nearly 200 AM simulcasts and BMW Connected Drive, through BMW Apps, provides access to “any AM radio station broadcasting on the web.”

Meanwhile, we reported in August that SCBA President Thom Callahan canvassed engineering schools and solicited engineering professors from USC, UCLA and the Jet Propulsion Lab to serve as advisors to the ad hoc group. Callahan tells Radio World that group has formed, and SCBA plans to meet in the next week or two with the committee and, from a technical standpoint, “develop the approach needed to get BMW’s attention.”