Ford makes a U-turn on its decision regarding AM radio. The automaking company has previously revealed that it would be dropping AM radio from its future models thus citing interference with its electric vehicles as the cause. But lawmakers in Congress have however got the company to change course on the decision.
Ford AM Radio
CEO Jim Farley In a tweet today announced that the company was backing off its original decision to release new vehicles without AM radio broadcast capabilities. All 2024 Ford and Lincoln models instead will be able to tune in to AM radio. And for the two electric vehicles that are released without AM radio capabilities, a software update would be pushed in a bid to restore it.
The recent announcement came just after Farley said that he spoke with policy leaders on the “importance of AM broadcast radio as a part of the emergency alert system.” A bipartisan group of lawmakers reportedly introduced legislation in Washington in the previous week that would require automakers to keep AM radio in all of their vehicles. The bill in question was proposed in response to an increasing number of vehicles that are coming out without first-generation radio broadcast technology.
Automakers Are Leaving AM Radio from Their Electric Vehicles
Automakers are now leaving out AM radio from their electric vehicles, in particular, thus citing possible electromagnetic interference with an EV powertrain. AM which as you should know stands for amplitude modulation, differs from FM, or frequency modulation, simply based on how the carrier wave is modulated, or even altered.
And unlike frequency, the amplitude can be affected by the noise that is emitted from electric devices, and this is including smartphones, TVs, computers, and, yes, even electric vehicles. The problem here is when the interference gets picked up by the radio, which can then lead to distortion and then crackling.
The Reason Automakers Are Ditching AM Function
Automakers in question generally see AM radio as an obsolete technology, thus arguing that there exist other technologies like internet streaming, HD radio that is delivered on FM bands, or even some apps that get to provide AM content that will easily make up for the absence of AM radio in vehicles.
Farley stated that Ford would however continue to explore this set of new technologies, even as it goes about reinstalling the AM radio function in its vehicles. “[W]e will continue to innovate to deliver even better in-vehicle entertainment and emergency notification options in the future,” he stated in his tweet.
Automakers Ditching AM Radio Function
A host of automakers have come out in favor of ditching AM radio functions from their cars, and this is including BMW, Mazda, Polestar, Rivian, Tesla, Volkswagen, and even Volvo. And the Zero Emission Transportation Association on the other hand, which lobbies on behalf of EV makers, has argued that the legislation mandating AM radio would “slow innovation and reduce consumer preference.”
AM Radio Is Irreplaceable
But the supporters of the bill claim that AM radio is irreplaceable. AM radio as you should know operates at lower frequencies as well as longer wavelengths, thus enabling it to pass through solid objects and even get to travel further than many other radio waves, which is a feature that is not shared by FM broadcasts. FEMA makes use of AM radio in broadcasting critical safety alerts to the public, they reportedly noted.
Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) on the other hand, who is a cosponsor on the legislation, applauded the decision of Ford to keep AM radio in its cars. “Ford’s reversal reflects an overdue realization about the importance of AM radio, but too many automakers are still going the wrong direction,” he reportedly stated in a statement.
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