The U.S. Congress has proposed a bill that would force automakers to keep including AM Radio as standard in all of their vehicles.
The reason for this is that the emergency alert service uses this technology.
Electric vehicles emit electromagnetic interference which can affect AM broadcasts.
As more and more automakers have been abandoning AM radio in their new models, a proposed bill is making its way through the U.S. Congress in order to force them to add it back to every car they sell.
While this doesn’t seem like much of an issue at first, automakers warn that including AM radio in electric vehicles is much more costly than it might seem, with potential costs of up to $3.8 million over the next seven years for the industry.
This is because modern vehicles are equipped with numerous electronic devices such as control modules, infotainment systems, and driver assistance technologies that generate electromagnetic interference.
This interference can affect the amplitude of carrier waves that transmit AM radio signals, thus making them fuzzy and significantly reducing the quality of the broadcast.
Since electric motors generate copious amounts of electromagnetic interference themselves, this problem is compounded in electric vehicles.
Interestingly, this doesn’t affect FM broadcasts since they create sound by modulating the frequency of the signal rather than its amplitude.
Combined with the steady decline in the popularity of AM radio over several decades, many automakers such as Tesla, Ford, Polestar, Volvo, Mazda, BMW, Rivian, and Volkswagen have already stopped offering this technology in their new vehicles, electric or not.
The reason why the U.S. Congress wants to ensure every vehicle sold in America is equipped with AM radio is that the country’s emergency alert broadcast service still uses this ancient technology to send public safety alerts to all Americans.
This is because AM radio has a few distinct advantages over FM and digital sources, namely that its signal can pass through solid objects and reach places that are usually not served by other broadcast methods, such as valleys and remote areas.
Automakers argue that AM radio is not useful enough to warrant the spending that is needed to make it work in EVs, especially since only 1% of people who received the latest emergency alert broadcast test last month received it via an AM signal, with 95% receiving it on their mobile phone.