Here’s the latest list of auto manufacturers that are dumping AM radio

The first radio was an aftermarket device installed by the Galvin brothers in 1930. Known as the Motorola, it made it possible for everyone to be entertained and informed while driving.

That first radio was AM (FM car radios started appearing in the 50s). Now, though, it’s looking like after almost 100 years, there’s a problem. AM signals have always been very prone to electromagnetic interference: lightning, power lines, and electric motors. And there’s the rub: AM signals struggle to get through the electromagnetic fields created by the motors in electric vehicles.

A growing number of auto manufacturers are dumping AM radio. Here’s the latest list of automakers who will not include AM radio in their EVs.

  • Tesla (“Use TuneIn or some other software-based tuner.”)
  • BMW (“[T]echnological innovation has afforded consumers many additional options to receive the same or similar information.”)
  • Ford (“The alternate technologies we’ve mentioned enable a transition from broadcast AM radio without sacrificing the safety of our consumers.”)
  • GM
  • Volkswagen (“Our engineers have investigated hardware and software methods to reduce the interference, but the performance did not meet our requirements.”)
  • Volvo (They seem to be out of AM across all their vehicles.)
  • Polestar
  • Rivian
  • Mercedes-Benz

They all believe (a) the technical limitations and deficiencies of AM signals are too much to bother with, (b) HD-Radio simulcasts are an option [SPOILER: They’re not. Adoption of HD-Radio has been dismal.] and (c) physical AM tuners can be replaced by streaming apps that deliver audio via cellular. [NOTE: Data costs money, so AM will no longer be free. And what if you’re out of cellular range?]

These makers have asserted that they will keep AM radio–for now.

  • Honda
  • Hyundai
  • Jaguar/Land Rover
  • Kia (“[W]e are unaware of issues with electromagnetic interference with AM radio signals from our EVs.”
  • Lucid
  • Mitsubishi
  • Nissan
  • Stellantis (Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep/Fiat)
  • Subaru
  • Toyota

Meanwhile, the US Government is pressuring automakers to maintain access to free AM radio, saying that (a) about 82 million Americans listen to the band, (b) AM signals can cover vast distances–far greater than FM–which is important in a large country like the US (and Canada, for that matter), and (c) AM is an excellent way to broadcast emergencies, especially when the internet goes down.

Other questions:

  • If in-car listening starts to go away, what to owners of AM radio stations do? Flipping the signal to FM isn’t always possible since that dial is completely full in many markets. The options are to either sunset that programming and return the license or bump a music station off FM.
  • Will auto manufacturers start charging a subscription for any radio tuners installed in their vehicles?

Watch for this fight to ramp up over the coming months.

UPDATE: Today (May 17), a bipartisan coalition in the US Congress introduced the AM for Every Vehicle Act, something that would require AM radio in all new cars without any additional charge.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

2 thoughts on “Here’s the latest list of auto manufacturers that are dumping AM radio

  • May 17, 2023 at 9:55 am

    We need am radio inclusion for information equity during emergencies in data deserts.
    Even if data is available, the streaming version can be minutes behind the live broadcast.

  • May 17, 2023 at 11:23 am

    I drove from Banff to Jasper a few years ago in a brand new rental with HD radio and even then we had zero radio on any band after the Saskatchewan river crossing, and that was in 2019, not sure no AM radio would matter there…


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