Congress is preparing to take action to make it illegal for automakers to drop AM radio from their vehicles, citing public safety concerns.
Automakers have increasingly been skipping AM radio in their new models, with Ford the latest to make the jump.
“We are transitioning from AM radio for most new and updated 2024 models,” Ford spokesman Wes Sherwood said when the decision was announced. “A majority of U.S. AM stations, as well as a number of countries and automakers globally, are modernizing radio by offering internet streaming through mobile apps, FM, digital and satellite radio options. Ford will continue to offer these alternatives for customers to hear their favorite AM radio music, news and podcasts as we remove amplitude modulation — the definition of AM in this case — from most new and updated models we bring to market.”
While AM radio may not be as popular as it once was, it is still an important channel for official communications and serves as the backbone of the US Emergency Alert System.
As a result, Axios is reporting that a bipartisan group of lawmakers is working to pass legislation that would make it illegal for automakers to dump AM radio.
“The importance of AM radio during large-scale emergencies cannot be underestimated, and it has, without a doubt and without interruption, saved lives and kept our communities informed,” said Congressman Josh Gottheimer, the lead sponsor in the House.
“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.”
One technical challenge that still needs to be overcome is interference from electric vehicle motors. EV motors generate enough EM interference to disrupt AM radio signals. If the legislation passes, automakers may need to come up with some type of shielding technology to cut down on the interference.