Automakers are stating that electromagnetic interference from EVs could cause status and noise on AM transmissions. Broadcasters say they could lose connection to their core listeners who rely on radio for emergencies. Nearly for 100 years, drivers have been listening to AM radio. It could be news, traffic, or other variety of programs.
But that dashboard staple could be going the way of manual-crank windows and car ashtrays as electric vehicles begin to grab more of the American marketplace. An increasing number of electric models have dropped AM radio in what broadcasters call a worrisome shift that could spell trouble for the stations and deprive drivers of a crucial source of news in emergencies.
Carmakers say that electric vehicles generate more electromagnetic interference than gas-powered cars, which can disrupt the reception of AM signals and cause static, noise, and a high-frequency hum. “Rather than frustrate customers with inferior reception and noise, the decision was made to leave it off vehicles that feature eDrive technology,” BMW said in a statement, referring to the system that powers its electric vehicles. Tesla, Audi, Porsche, and Volvo have also removed AM radio from their electric vehicles, as has Volkswagen from its electric S.U.V., ID.4, according to the carmakers and the National Association of Broadcasters. Ford said that the 2023 F-150 Lightning, its popular electric pickup truck, would also drop AM radio.
According to some experts, the reception problems are not insurmountable. Electromagnetic interference could be controlled with shielding cables, filters, and careful placement of the electrical components in the vehicle, said Pooja Nair, a communications systems engineer at the entertainment technology company Xperi, which owns HD Radio technology. But such changes require money and effort, and it’s not clear whether carmakers are willing to spend more in the service of AM radio fans. The Drive, a car news site that has reported on the trend, noted that AM radio has lost favor in Europe, so carmakers there might see less of a need to keep it.
If more electric vehicles drop AM radio, some broadcasters say they could lose a connection to their core listeners.