WTVM Editorial: 05/16/23: Electric Cars Need AM Radios

Published: May. 18, 2023 at 10:04 AM EDT
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COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - Electric cars are being pushed relentlessly to consumers, promising drivers the latest technology. But to meet those claims, many electric vehicle makers say they will no longer provide AM radios in new EVs.

Carmakers like Ford, BMW, Volvo, and Tesla won’t put AM radios – the backbone of our nationwide emergency alert system - in their new electric vehicles. They say it’s because electric batteries and motors aren’t compatible with AM radio signals, making the stations noisy and full of static.

Yet, other electric car makers will still include AM radios: Kia, Toyota, Nissan, and Honda. Those manufacturers have figured out a way to shield the electrical interference and keep AM radio in their cars.

Because some cars will have them and some won’t, consumers may not know until it’s too late that the new car they buy doesn’t have an AM radio. The National Association of Broadcasters conducted a worldwide survey on the importance of local radio in new cars. They found eight in ten prospective car buyers would be much more likely to purchase a car if it does have an AM/FM Radio tuner.

The automakers removing AM radio from new cars are creating a risk to public safety, by sacrificing the dependable, time-tested technology of regular AM radio. They say internet-based radio and smartphone apps are available to take the place of AM radio. But those options are not reliable ways to receive critical information, especially when the wireless infrastructure can be crushed by severe weather or terrorist attacks.

Some electric vehicle makers say subscription radio, like Sirius XM gives drivers access to news, but those are national services. Those channels have no local employees to break in live with life-saving emergency information. That’s something only local broadcasters can do.

So “Buyer Beware” when it comes to EVs without AM radios -- and let dealers know you want AM radio. What may seem like a relic of the past, AM radio might actually be the savior technology that keeps an electric car driver out of harm’s way.