Ford to put AM radio back in cars after outcry from Congress

·2 min read

Ford is canceling plans to remove AM radio capability from its vehicles following pressure from Congress.

The car maker’s 2023 electric Mustang and F-150 already don’t have AM radio options, and executives had announced plans to remove the band from upcoming 2024 model year vehicles.

But on Tuesday, Ford CEO Jim Farley revealed those plans had changed.

“After speaking with policy leaders about the importance of AM broadcast radio as a part of the emergency alert system, we’ve decided to include it on all 2024 [Ford] and [Lincoln] vehicles,” Farley wrote on social media.

AM radio remains the country’s most reliable way to reach people in an emergency situation. A bipartisan group of legislators, led by senators Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) introduced the “AM for Every Vehicle Act” in response to Ford’s plans.

Markey said Tuesday he was happy to see Ford’s decision but still wanted to pass the bill.

“Ford is responding to the millions of listeners, thousands of broadcasters, and countless emergency officials who have called for automakers to keep AM radio in their vehicles,” he wrote on Twitter. “But we can’t rely on the goodwill of individual automakers.”

Several companies have cut AM radio out of certain cars in recent years, including BMW, Porsche, Audi, Volvo, Volkswagen and Tesla. The companies have focused on removing AM radio from electric vehicles, citing technology issues.

In announcing the planned elimination, Ford said that only 5% of car radios were used for AM broadcast, making the feature not worth the effort.

Markey and the bill’s supporters argued that AM remains vital for getting warnings out in catastrophic situations, particularly to rural areas that lack consistent cell service.

Though AM radio is often considered outdated, it remains popular with older drivers, according to industry data. The National Association of Broadcasters estimates that 82 million people still listen to AM radio, with one-third of them being older than 65.

In addition to the change for 2024 vehicles, Ford will offer a software update for 2023 electric vehicles that reinstalls AM capability, according to CEO Farley.

With News Wire Services