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Ford Reverses Position on AM Radio in Vehicles

CEO Jim Farley says the company recognizes AM's importance to emergency broadcasts
By Steve Huff,  Newser Staff
Posted May 23, 2023 3:00 PM CDT
Ford Reverses Course, Will Have AM Radio in New Vehicles
The reflection of the front of a 2021 Ford Mustang Mach E is seen in the window as it is charging at a Ford dealer in Wexford, Pa.   (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic, File)

In a twist that likely has vintage tech enthusiasts cheering and EV fans scratching their heads, Ford made a U-turn on its previous decision to remove AM radio from its products. Instead, the Detroit Free Press reports the automaker will keep it old school—AM radio will be included in all 2024 Ford and Lincoln vehicles, both gas and electric. In a tweet, Ford CEO Jim Farley said that after discussions with policy leaders, the company recognized the importance of AM broadcast radio to the emergency alert system. The automaker is even extending this feature to owners of Ford EVs without AM broadcast capability through a software update.

The announcement caused a stir in the automotive world. The National Association of Broadcasters commended Ford for this move, highlighting the role of AM radio as a lifeline for the public, especially during emergencies. However, a host of automakers including Tesla, BMW, Porsche, Audi, Volvo, and Volkswagen that have been gradually phasing out AM radio in their electric vehicles. Ars Technica reports that this has led to a heated debate in Congress, with some lawmakers introducing the "AM Radio for Every Vehicle Act," which would mandate that every new vehicle include an AM radio receiver.

Tech and auto industries have expressed their displeasure, according to Ars, arguing that the legislation is a step back in the realm of progress. They counter that there are more modern and effective ways to broadcast alerts today. After all, 97% of Americans own cell phones designed to receive Wireless Emergency Alerts. Additionally, for a radio alert to work, it must be turned on and tuned to the right wavelength, which is not guaranteed in every vehicle. So while some are cranking up their AM radios in approval, others are dialing up their criticism. It's a classic case of the old school meeting the new and producing a lot of static. (More Ford stories.)

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