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Not All Those AM Listeners Are in Cars, Bozzella Argues

Auto group also says it would take two decades for fleet to turn over and AM to phase out

Headshot of John Bozzella
John Bozzella

“Whether or not AM radio is physically installed in vehicles in the future has no bearing on the multiple methods of delivering those emergency communications alerts to the public.”

So writes the president and CEO of the Alliance for Automotive Innovation. John Bozzella used a blog post this past week to summarize the auto industry’s case against a mandate to include AM radio in cars.

It’s simply not necessary, he wrote; and government shouldn’t be propping up a particular technology that’s competing with other communications options, either.

“It’s tempting to take a cheap shot at misplaced government priorities and unnecessary mandates or make light of the whole thing with a jab about laws for hand-crank windows or cassette players,” he writes, calling the legislation a bipartisan solution searching for a problem.

He reiterated the carmakers’ argument that high-voltage electrical systems in EVs can interfere with the AM reception. “Combine that with research indicating drivers barely listen to AM radio in vehicles and the finite real estate behind the dashboard to house newer technologies, a clearer, less dramatic picture starts to emerge.”

Bozzella also said that while 80 million people may still listen to AM every month, they’re not all listening in cars. And given the number of vehicles on the road today, it would take two decades for the auto fleet to turn over and AM radio to phase out.

“Meanwhile, EVs represent just over one percent of all registered vehicles. So even if all those vehicles already discontinued AM radio, 99 percent of the U.S. fleet would still have it.”

Will AM radio phase out over many years? He says maybe, but argues that it’ll be supplanted by something better, and meanwhile there are many ways that drivers can get emergency alerts other than AM radio, including their phones, FM radio and internet-based or satellite radio platforms.

You can read it here.

The alliance also participated in last week’s hearing on Capitol Hill where legislators aired their views about the importance of AM.