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What Car Companies Told Markey About Radio

Ford and Volvo are dropping AM; letters from other companies present a worrisome outlook

It’s becoming clear that AM broadcast reception is under mortal assault in the United States — and not just in electric vehicles.

In mid-March, news broke that the 2024 version of the popular Ford Mustang will not include AM reception. Then a Ford spokesperson told news site Ars Technica that Ford drivers will still be able to access AM stations via internet “as we remove amplitude modulation — the definition of AM in this case — from most new and updated models we bring to market.”

The Ford news broke shortly after Sen. Ed Markey released letters he received from major carmakers about their intentions for AM radio. 

Volvo told Markey, “Our decision to not support AM radio was primarily linked to our electrification strategy” and said it has “no plans for AM antennae in the future.”

The fact that Ford and Volvo appear to be dropping AM from all vehicles, not just EVs, shows how dramatically AM’s place in the dashboard has eroded. 

The rest of the letters suggest an outlook for AM in cars that is, to put it generously, patchy. 

Some carmakers described specific steps they’ve taken to retain AM radio in their EVs, at least for now. Several sounded somewhat reassuring and expressed a willingness to collaborate with Markey, while others seemed more stand-offish. Companies that make only EVs seemed to dance around the subject and didn’t answer Markey’s questions directly. 

Most of the respondents seemed to indicate that FM radio is firmly entrenched in their current suites of offerings. Many also offer HD Radio. But none expressed any long-term commitment to AM, FM or any other particular feature, seeming to want to leave their options open. And it’s clear that the risk to AM extends beyond EVs to all vehicles.

What follows is a sample of the responses (read the originals here).

“Poor reception quality”

Volvo’s letter indicated that it has dropped AM in vehicles of all types. 

“Our decision to not support AM radio was primarily linked to our electrification strategy. If Volvo cars had continued to provide AM radio, our BEV [Battery Electric Vehicle] and PHEV [Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle] models likely would have experienced EMC [electromagnetic compatibility] disturbances and this could result in poor performance,” Volvo said. It added that it has “no plans for AM antennae in the future.”

Polestar, a luxury performance brand owned by Volvo, does not have AM broadcast radio in its current vehicles. “Polestar 2 and Polestar 3 do not offer AM radio, and have been this way since launch,” it told Markey. 

Mazda’s first ever electric vehicle to market, which shipped in 2022, does not have AM, according to the company.

“Support for AM radio in the 2022 MX-30 for all markets was dropped due to poor reception quality caused by electromagnetic inference from the MX-30’s battery powered motor and electronics,” Mazda wrote. It said a decision has not yet been made regarding the ability to receive AM broadcasts from future vehicles.

The Mazda EV was developed for three key markets — Japan, Europe and North America. The company noted that in Europe, analog AM radio broadcasts have been replaced by DAB. In Japan, Mazda says, all AM stations are simulcast on FM. 

“In North America, many AM broadcasters have made their content available via compatible smartphone apps, which can be used via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto in the MX-30,” Mazda wrote, a theme that was echoed by other companies. 

[Related: Congressman Says Make AM Radio a Mandatory Safety Feature]

Several of the companies referred to AM’s problems with noise and interference.  

“AM signals are highly susceptible to interference from all types of electrical sources, not only from components inside vehicles,” Volkswagen wrote. The German automaker does not include AM radio in its EVs. Its engineers have investigated hardware and software methods to reduce the interference, but the solutions did not meet their requirements. 

“The challenge of AM radio interference and static already exists in ICE [internal combustion engines], but the problem is significantly exacerbated in EVs.” Volkswagen noted that metallic shielding, filtering and other measures could help but would have “a substantial impact on an EV’s range and performance due to the added weight.” (The company also mentioned that it reviews its strategy for terrestrial radio and streaming “on a yearly basis.”)

But other car manufacturers said they take extra precautions to protect AM reception in their EVs.

Stellantis, parent of familiar brands like Chrysler, Fiat and Dodge, said its plans are confidential but described steps it has taken to keep AM in its electric offerings. “To help protect the AM radio band from noise and interference, our company has, for example, used shielded high-voltage cables and connectors; we have also established various requirements that all electrical components in the vehicle must meet. 

“Additionally, Stellantis is implementing preventive design measures for future vehicles. For instance, next-generation infotainment systems will locate AM and FM receiver components farther from EV components, which may help improve AM reception, including in BEVs.”

Stellantis acknowledged that auto manufacturers face questions about the AM noise issue, adding that the technical and economic challenges may vary by vehicle. 

Nissan, Honda, Hyundai and Mitsubishi Motors wrote that they use noise reduction measures when necessary in order to limit electromagnetic interference in new EVs. 

A few automakers told Markey they haven’t used special technology to address EMI, though “it does cause substantial challenges in terms of packaging and antenna location,” according to Jaguar Land Rover North America.

Kia told Markey it has no plans to discontinue AM or FM in future models sold in the U.S., whether EVs or gas-powered vehicles. “Finally, we are not aware of issues with electromagnetic interference with AM radio signals from our EVs.”

Many of the companies said they offer HD Radio, and several of the responses mention the benefits in reducing interference. Xperi, the developer of HD Radio, says digital in-band, on-channel modulation provides a significant level of noise immunity from electromagnets that produce harmonics harmful to analog AM transmission and reception.

One company’s response was signed by a technical executive. Adam McNeill, VP of engineering in the U.S. at BMW, said its EV and PHEV models no longer include AM broadcast radios and explained why:

“BMW made the decision to not include analog AM radio broadcasting in its EV and EV hybrid models beginning with the BMW I3 in 2014 primarily for two reasons: 1) electromagnetic interference creates poor analog AM radio reception quality and 2) technological innovation has afforded consumers many additional options to receive the same or similar information.” 

BMW noted that many AM stations in the United States now have FM translators. “BMW offers free digital FM broadcasting, through which many radio stations simulcast their AM radio programming,” McNeill wrote.

BMW was among the companies that pointed Markey to the response from the Alliance for Automotive Innovation. That letter made no mention of keeping AM in cars but replied to Markey’s concerns about public warning by describing the many ways Americans can receive emergency alerts and other public warning.

The consortium even quoted FEMA’s IPAWS Program Management Office strategic plan as stating: “The public is moving away from radio and broadcast/cable television as the primary channels for news and information.” 

“Severe disruption”

Unsurprisingly, carmakers that make only EVs, like Tesla, Rivian and Lucid, seemed dismissive of AM or avoided answering the Markey questions directly.

Tesla said its testing of AM in its EVs caused severe disruption to AM radio transmission that makes the signal reception unstable and unusable. The company says it has developed “a comprehensive suite of in-vehicle media capabilities to ensure every Tesla owner can personalize their drive to their preferences.” 

That includes the TuneIn streaming app. “Tesla identified TuneIn as an alternative streaming application to provide Tesla owners with access to their preferred local AM radio stations and thousands of additional global stations. Through TuneIn, Tesla owners are able to stay current on their preferred local AM radio shows and broadcasts, ensuring access to the full range of radio programming,” Tesla told Markey. (The company also mentioned that it had provided virtual briefings for Markey’s staff in September and October of last year.)

Rivian’s line of electric trucks and SUVs do not include over-the-air AM reception. It wrote: “AM radio service from local and national stations is provided via digital radio platforms,” which appears to refer to internet streams from a modem in their R1T and R1S models. 

Meanwhile Lucid didn’t answer most of Markey’s questions and focused instead on promoting the brand’s effort to “create sustainable mobility without compromise in cars that are intuitive, liberating, safe and designed for all the ways people get around.” It did say the Lucid Air sedan “offers consumer-friendly features, including free, digital AM/FM/HD/DAB+ radio and is designed to minimize electromagnetic interference,” but it gave few other details.

The Lucid letter and most of the others appear to be cautiously worded and in most cases were signed by government affairs and policy departments. In fact, some read more like marketing pieces with brand messaging and statements of their commitment to being environmentally responsible.

“No plans to discontinue”

One of Markey’s core questions was whether each company had any plans to omit free broadcast AM or FM from any future vehicles. 

Hyundai wrote, “We have no plans to discontinue either of these [AM or FM] in future vehicles.” Jaguar said, “We currently do not have any plans to discontinue AM and/or FM from future vehicle models.” 

Mitsubishi wrote, “No, we do not have plans to omit AM and/or FM broadcast radio.” Nissan said, “Currently, all Nissan and Infiniti branded vehicles sold in the U.S. are equipped with AM/FM radio. At present, there is no plan to remove this feature or discontinue access regardless of powertrain type.” 

And Subaru wrote that it “has not discontinued access to free AM/FM broadcast radio in any of its vehicles. Subaru does not have any current plans to omit AM/FM broadcast radio from future vehicles.”

But all of the companies left their long-term options open in one way or another. 

For example, Honda wrote that both of its officially announced EVs will have AM and FM broadcast radio; they were co-developed with General Motors utilizing their Ultium platform. However, it continued, “no announcements on future models beyond the Honda Prologue and Acura ZDX have been made.”

Toyota VP of Governmental Affairs Stephen Ciccone said all Toyota and Lexus vehicles on sale include AM/FM and HD Radio, including the fully battery electric Toyota BZ4X. But Ciccone said that electromagnetic interference with AM signals from the battery electric platform is a challenge, and he was noncommittal about future business decisions. 

“While Toyota has addressed this problem in our current vehicles, we would like to refrain from commenting on potential future business plans.”

Two big names, General Motors and Mercedes-Benz, declined to provide individual responses to Markey and relied solely on the alliance letter to speak for them on the topic of AM radio.

And then there’s Ford

Ford’s letter to Markey did not explicitly say it is leaving AM radio behind in its offerings. That news came after Ford was questioned about the latest Mustang. But its letter gave a clear preview, referring to “a transition from broadcast AM radio.” 

“We acknowledge that broadcast AM radio has long been an important source of information for consumers. This information is now available through several alternate means. Many systems without AM receivers can use internet streaming, HD Radio delivered on FM bands, or some apps to provide an AM station’s content.”

Ford concluded: “The alternate technologies we’ve mentioned enable a transition from broadcast AM radio without sacrificing the safety of our consumers.”

The 2024 Ford Mustang will not have AM radio reception capability. (Credit:

There was no mention in any letters about car buyers being given an option of including AM radio or having to subscribe to the service in future vehicles, which is something Radio World has reported on. 

However, there is plenty of evidence in the letters that automakers are planning to accelerate electrification of their vehicles and offer burgeoning in-vehicle infotainment options in connected EVs.

“We believe electrification amplifies the attributes our customers love, such as performance, capability and convenience,” Ford wrote. “Further, we believe disruptive technology allows us to enrich the customer experience. In all aspects of the vehicle, we continually look for cost-effective, innovative solutions to unlock new capabilities.”

The Not-So-Great 8

Sen. Ed Markey criticized the eight car companies — BMW, Ford, Mazda, Polestar, Rivian, Tesla, Volkswagen and Volvo — that told him they have removed AM radio from EVs. 

You could almost feel the electricity in his reply. He said those eight “have undermined the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s system for delivering critical public safety information to the public.” 

He said Mercedes-Benz and General Motors “refused to provide individual responses” and relied on a letter from the Alliance for Automotive Innovation.

Ten automakers — Honda, Hyundai, Jaguar/Land Rover, Kia, Lucid, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Stellantis, Subaru and Toyota — “still maintain access to broadcast AM radio in their vehicles.” 

Markey reacted by saying that “far too many automakers are ignoring the critical safety benefits of AM radio.” He said that although many automakers named other media including internet radio as replacements for AM, “in an emergency, drivers might not have access to the internet and could miss critical safety information. The truth is that broadcast AM radio is irreplaceable.” 

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