Will Electric Cars Kill AM Radio?

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That’s the question Autoweek asks in a lengthy article released yesterday that includes the opinion of Radio Ink Chairman Eric Rhoads. For some reason, there continues to be a problem with AM Radio interference caused by the electric motors leading to the demise of AM Radio in these vehicles.

Last week at Forecast 2023, Autonomy CEO and Founder Scott Painter said by 2030 all vehicles on the road will be electric. Autonomy is an automotive subscription service that allows customers to purchase electric vehicles from an app and without having to deal with the unpleasant experience of dealing with car salesman.

Jim Motavalli writes in Autoweek that the interference caused to AM Radio by the electric cars is the reason the BMWi3 electric car stopped including AM radio years ago. Tesla dropped AM Radio in 2018. The Mercedes-Benz EQS EV doesn’t include AM and Volvo and Audi also churn out electric vehicles without AM, according to Motavalli.

Greg Ashlock and Scott Painter at Forecast 2023

There was a short period of time, mostly during the Ajit Pai FCC years, that it appeared the Commission might make a real effort to revive AM. However, other than the big powerhouse stations across the country, unless a station moved to digital, the band still puts out inferior quality sound. And when consumers can get great-sounding audio programming with the flick of a button on their smartphone why would they even consider listening to AM Radio?

The Ford F-150 Lightning electric truck had AM, but it’s going away, Ford Spokesman Emma Bergg tells Motavalli in the Autoweek article. “While we have had AM on our EVs, it is actually being removed for Lightning. The frequencies involved in AM radio tend to be directly affected by the electromagnetic noise in EV propulsion systems. It takes extra investment to make AM work in an EV, and quality can be compromised as well.”

Radio Ink Chairman Eric Rhoads predicted this would be coming a long time ago and was widely criticized by the radio industry. The big question is, what is the radio industry doing to save the AM band? Do you even care anymore? Have you given up on AM Radio?

10 COMMENTS

  1. AM radio is on its deathbed with or without electric cars. Radio treats AM radio in most markets as an afterthought. There will be a time in the next 10-20 years when radio won’t even be in cars. You’ll have an opportunity to stream what you want to listen to. AM radio in many markets is right wing talk and religion and that’s just not a selling point for AM radio. Why be upset about something that most people don’t care about?

  2. Mr. Wertz, I agree completely. There IS a part 15 of the rules which for electric vehicles the FCC refuses to enforce. NAB does NOT look out for the AM broadcast service and nor does the FCC. The FCC has degraded to a paper tiger run by politicians instead of radio people and engineers. For one, I will NEVER own an electric vehicle. The market place must determine the viability of electric vehicles and absolutely no taxpayer money should be spent for EV development, charging stations, etc. Conventional and electric vehicles must coexist in the American market place and consumers decide what is affordable and not politicians. I agree the station owners need to band together and file suit to clean up the interference and get AM back into vehicles.

  3. There IS a Part 15 in the rules that requires unintentional and intentional “radiators” to not create interference and there ARE standards. Mr. Wertz, the NAB is negligent toward the AM broadcast service and the FCC is no more than a paper tiger run by politicians and not radio people. Station owners MUST band together and file suit to enforce Part 15. For one, I will NEVER own an electric vehicle. I own a vehicle I can work on and save some money. Taxpayers should NEVER be on the hook for electric vehicle development, charging stations, etc. The market place should determine the coexistence of conventional and electric vehicles and not political interference from this horrible administration.

  4. 1) There is NO way that all vehicles on the road will be electric by 2030. In fact, I’d wager that well under 50% of vehicles sold that year will be EVs. So that’s inaccuracy #1.

    2) It isn’t “interference caused by AM radio” it’s interference caused by improperly shielded electrical parts that causes interference to AM reception. That’s inaccuracy #2.

    So, from this we can conclude that Autoweek employs hacks to produce articles and if they’re this off the mark on a subject that we know about, just imagine how full of crap they are on the rest of what they write. Don’t waste your time with a joke publication such as this.

  5. If only there were compelling programming on AM radio that the listeners would demand it work in electric cars, this wouldn’t be an issue.

    Look at the number of FM translators now rebroadcasting AM signals. Broadcasters have been abandoning AM for years now. Why should automakers spend extra money to help it survive?

  6. Considering that I routinely see cars I can identify as 15 years or older on the road, the 2030 all-electric prediction is hype and nonsense. Where I live,in the historic district (there’s a 1200 year old Indian mound a block from my house), there’s very little off-street parking-hence no where to charge an electric.
    But sloppy manufacturing is already a problem with my conventional gas powered 2019 Chevy Malibu. The multitude of unshielded, unfiltered micro-processors cuts the range on my 1kw Class C to about 5 miles, and the internal noise de-senses FM reception as well.
    Of course, no problem with XMSirius reception…

  7. I was told 2 years ago by an automotive expert that this could be solved, but it would increase the price of each vehicle by at least $(US)100 and that was too much. Therefore, EV manufactures decided not to include AM radio in their vehicles. I get around this issue in my Telsa 3 and listen to the big AM in my area, who provides excellent traffic information every 15 minutes, using the radio station app I downloaded.

  8. What ever happened to enforcing Part 15 of the FCC rules? this device may not cause interference, and (2) this device must accept any interference, including interference that may cause undesired operation of the device.
    I’ve questioned for years why the NAB hasn’t initiated a lawsuit seeking financial damages for interference that’s devastated AM radio stations. It is far beyond time for individual station owners to join together and file a class action suit. Some high powered law firm, with too many attorneys, should be salivating to take this on a contingency basis.

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