Ford reverses course, will keep AM Radio in EVs
By David Shepardson
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Ford Motor Co will not remove AM broadcast radio as a feature in new vehicles after lawmakers introduced legislation to require them, the company's chief executive said Tuesday.
Ford CEO Jim Farley said on Twitter Ford will include it on all 2024 Ford vehicles, and for existing Ford EVs "without AM broadcast capability, we'll offer a software update. ... Thanks to our product development and manufacturing teams for their quick response to make this change for our customers."
Last week, a group of bipartisan U.S. lawmakers introduced legislation to bar automakers from eliminating AM broadcast radio in their new vehicles, citing safety concerns about emergency alerts.
Senator Ed Markey, one of the sponsors of the bill, said last week at least eight automakers had opted to remove AM broadcast radio from their electric vehicles, including Tesla Inc, BMW, Ford and Volkswagen AG.
Markey on Tuesday praised "Ford for tuning into the concerns of millions of listeners, thousands of broadcasters and countless emergency management officials who have called for automakers to keep AM radio in their vehicles."
The bill would direct the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to issue regulations to mandate AM radio in new vehicles without additional charge. "Carmakers shouldn't tune out AM radio in new vehicles or put it behind a costly digital paywall," Markey said.
Lawmakers say losing AM radio undermines a federal system for delivering key public safety information to the public.
The Alliance for Automotive Innovation, a trade group representing major automakers, said "mandating AM radios in all vehicles is unnecessary. Congress has never mandated radio features in vehicles ever before."
Automakers pointed to an existing system that distributes warnings across AM, FM, internet-based or satellite radio and over cellular networks.
"This is simply a bill to prop up and give preference to a particular technology that's now competing with other communications options and adapting to changing listenership," the automaker group said.
(Reporting by David Shepardson, Editing by Franklin Paul and Richard Chang)