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GM Drops HD Radio From Some 2015 Models

IBiquity calls it a temporary “slow down” in some GM brands; points to strong trend in vehicles overall

I had heard GM was leaving HD Radio out of the 2015 Chevy Traverse and confirmed that with iBiquity Digital, which had indicated its technology was being removed “for a period of time” and iBiquity’s working with GM on future generation radio platforms.

Today, a blog, GM Authority, which looks like it compares spec sheets given to dealers for new cars, indicates HD was also removed from more models, specifically the 2015 Silverado Truck, Buick Enclave and Regal as well as the Impala.

That got my attention. I’ve reached out to GM for confirmation and to ask why.

IBiquity Digital’s Joe D’Angelo tells me today that overall, the trend for HD Radio adoption in new vehicles remains strong. “HD Radio receivers are being installed by every automaker. While HD Radio receivers remain in all Cadillac models, there will be some slowdown in adoption with other GM brands for a period of time. Industry wide, we are pleased that soon close to 40% of all new vehicles sold in America will be HD Radio-equipped.”

Yet, this looks bad. GM is one of the so-called “Big 3” U.S. automakers. And it comes on top of the recent news about BMW leaving AM out of the dash for electric models i3 and i8. HD Radio is standard on those models, we’ve reported.

Getting back to dropping HD from the dash, is this a trend? Is “temporary” really temporary in GM’s case, I asked.

D’Angelo says “We can’t talk about planning” and he directed me to the automotive portion of the Alliance website, which he says is updated regularly. Today, that shows 177 vehicle models available with the technology.

Looking at the GM brands on-site, HD had been standard equipment on the Chevy Traverse, and remains available in the Corvette. HD remains on four Cadillac models, including the ATS and is standard on the CTS, SRX and XTS. HD remains on GMs two Acadia models, the Sierra and it’s standard on the Acadia.

IBiquity is pretty constrained in what they can say, because the automakers themselves want to control what features they promote, or not, for their vehicles. It’s not like the automakers are going to issue a press release to say, “Here’s what we left out so we can make it easier for you to connect your phone to the dash and control your big-screen interface.”

And it may not be entirely a technology question, though iBiquity’s technology is bundled with a lot of other tech in vehicles. Over the years, the company has told me they still need to justify to the automakers having HD in the vehicle. Automakers focus on costs down to the penny for every car component, the glass, steel, rug, etc. and they balance that with the need to include features they believe customers will want so they can sell vehicles. Notice the automaker has also purportedly removed satellite radio and GM’s own in-house OnStar, too from the Impala according to the blog, while adding 4G LTE and Wi-Fi capability.

Automakers design their cars some 18 months or so in advance on average, so we don’t know what’s coming down the pike. To say the least, discussion of all of this at the upcoming Radio Show should be pretty interesting.