Ford Decides to Keep AM Radio in All New Vehicles After Customer, Lawmaker Outcry
The reversal comes after Ford announced plans to drop AM radio because internet broadcasts made the technology redundant.
Ford plans to keep AM radio on its future vehicles after dropping it from new cars, including the 2024 Mustang, just a few months ago. Their decision comes after bipartisan pressure from federal lawmakers who cited the importance of AM in delivering vital information during emergencies, especially to rural communities.
In a statement to The Drive in early March, a spokesperson for the Dearborn automaker said the technology was being dropped from the Mustang as "countries and automakers globally are modernizing radio by offering internet streaming through mobile apps, FM, or digital." In short: Internet radio made AM radio redundant. AM radio was even dropped from the F-150 Lighting.
Now the company has changed its tone. As Associated Press reports, Ford claims the feature can be returned to the vehicles via a simple over-the-air update, which implies the hardware to receive AM transmission is still installed in the company's products despite it not being formally offered. In a tweet, Ford CEO Jim Farley said all 2024 model year Fords and Lincolns will have AM radio.
Many new vehicles—mostly EVs—have arrived without AM radios for some time. BMW, Tesla, Volvo, Porsche, and more make EVs without the AM receivers. In BMW's case, it's been doing it since 2014 in the case of the i3—nearly a decade. Some cite the electrical interference caused by the vehicles' drivetrain as an excuse not to include the tech, but EVs from the likes of General Motors, Stellantis, and even older Fords come equipped with them.
As mentioned, car companies may be forced to include access to AM on new cars. A bill in the Senate seeks to direct the transportation secretary to mandate access to AM frequencies on all new cars. Called the AM Radio for Every Vehicle Act of 2023, the bill was introduced last week with broad bipartisan support and could pass with relative ease. If it does, European automakers and Tesla may find themselves looking for a supplier soon.
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