In a recent announcement, Ford CEO Jim Farley revealed that the company has decided to reverse its previous decision and reinstate AM radio in its new vehicles. This change comes after discussions with government policy leaders who expressed concerns about the importance of AM stations in broadcasting emergency alerts. Farley took to social media, specifically Twitter, to communicate the decision, stating that all 2024 Ford and Lincoln vehicles will include AM radio. Additionally, for owners of Ford’s electric vehicles (EVs) lacking AM broadcast capability, a software update will be made available to restore this feature.
The decision follows the introduction of a bipartisan bill known as the “AM for Every Vehicle Act,” which urges the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to mandate the inclusion of AM radio in new vehicles without imposing any extra costs. Lawmakers supporting the bill emphasized the vital role of AM radio in transmitting crucial information during emergencies, particularly to rural areas and during natural disasters.
Ford had previously removed AM radio from their 2023 Mustang Mach-e and F-150 Lightning electric pickups due to low customer usage, with less than 5% of customers utilizing the feature. Reasons cited by Ford spokesman Alan Hall included concerns about electrical interference, cost reduction, and manufacturing simplicity. The 2024 gasoline-powered Mustang also had AM radio removed initially, but Ford plans to reintegrate it before delivering any of the muscle cars.
To address the absence of AM radio in EVs, Ford will provide an online software update to restore this functionality. Furthermore, the company expressed its commitment to exploring innovative methods of delivering emergency alerts, indicating a willingness to consider alternative approaches beyond traditional AM radio. However, lawmakers such as Senator Edward Markey highlighted scenarios where drivers might lack access to the internet, underscoring the continued importance of AM radio.
The Federal Communications Commission and the National Association of Broadcasters applauded the proposed legislation, which received support from Senator Ted Cruz, Representative Josh Gottheimer, Representative Tom Kean Jr., Representative Marie Gluesenkamp Perez, and others. However, the Alliance for Automotive Innovation, a trade group representing major automakers like Ford and BMW, criticized the bill, arguing that mandating AM radio is unnecessary. They pointed to the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Integrated Public Alerts and Warning System, which leverages AM, FM, internet-based, and satellite radios, as well as cellular networks, to distribute safety warnings. The trade group suggested that the legislation favors a particular technology over competing communication options.
As of now, there have been no official comments from BMW and Tesla regarding their stance on this issue. Nevertheless, data from the National Association of Broadcasters and Nielsen indicates that over 80 million people in the United States listen to AM radio each month, underscoring the continued relevance and importance of this medium.
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