Few of the electric vehicles (EVs) recently have given up on AM radio receivers. This means that the drivers will miss important safety alerts broadcasted through the medium & could be potentially harmful. Most European car makers are abandoning the technology due to lower audio quality as a reason. Even Ford has reportedly abandoned the AM band from its radio with the launch of the 2023 Ford F-150 Lightning, This can put owners of the new vehicles at danger, because they will miss on the emergency broadcasts. Seven of the former Federal Emergency Management Agency(FEMA) officials sent a letter to Buttigieg mentioning their concerns over the AM radios being excluded from EVs. Pete Buttigieg is the United States Secretary for Transportation. They raised their concerns because they believe AM radio serves as an important part of the infrastructure used by the federal Integrated Public Alert & Warning System(IPAWS). IPAWS provides emergency-alerts and warnings to the public from FEMA during natural disasters and extreme weather situations.
Manufacturers such as Ford Motor Co. Inc. have dropped AM radio from their newer EV models. Companies say that their motors on such vehicles make electromagnetic frequencies on the same wavelength as the AM radio signals, which creates a buzz sound and also fades the signal.
“When all else fails, radio stations are often the last line of communications that communities have,” said Craig Fugate, head of FEMA under former President Obama’s administration and is one of the letter’s signatories. There are more than 75 radio stations, mostly operating on the AM band. These stations cover at least 90% of the U.S. Population and are well equipped with backup communications equipment and even generators that can allow them to continue broadcasting during and after emergencies, FEMA said.
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Drivers nowadays can use smartphones or other tech devices to dial up their favorite radio stations. But the signals on those online services are not as reliable as AM radio during emergency events, the former FEMA officials said. Completely removing AM radio in EVs could have negative effects on people because a reliable tool to receive critical public-safety information will be unavailable in their vehicles. The Alliance for Automotive Innovation (AAI), has been communicating with the National Association of Broadcasters to discuss the issue. AAI & FEMA are in their early stages of engagements to better understand how citizens can continue to access emergency-broadcast alerts in their vehicles.
AM radios won’t be shut down because many EVs still have them as standard equipment—the Hyundai Ioniq 5, Toyota BZ4X, and Chevy Bolt. The medium also boasts an audience of 47 million nationwide and essential for many new car buyers.