Technology development seems to be accelerating, and that includes in the field of vehicle infotainment. However, some older technology could remain, as lawmakers may require automakers to include AM radio receivers in new vehicles as standard equipment, per a new bill now headed to the Senate. The bill has been opposed by major automakers.
Dubbed the AM Radio for Every Vehicle Act, the new bill would direct the National Highway Traffic Administration (NHTSA) to require automakers to include AM radio receivers in new vehicles without a separate or additional fee. The bill would also require automakers to disclose to customers if a given vehicle does not provide access to AM broadcast radio, and it would direct the Government Accountability Office to study the importance of AM radio as a means of providing information to citizens in emergency situations.
The AM Radio for Every Vehicle Act has bi-partisan support, and was introduced by Senators Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Edward J. Markey (D-Mass) last May. The bill now heads to the Senate floor for consideration.
“AM radio serves a critical function during emergencies,” said Senator Cruz. “It reliably gets important information to the public, which is why several former FEMA administrators and representatives of the emergency response community have called for AM radio to remain in vehicles. AM radio is also vital to free expression and viewpoint diversity. With low barriers to entry, it allows Americans, especially conservatives, to communicate their points of view and help free speech flourish.”
“Today’s vote to advance the AM Radio for Every Vehicle Act sends a clear signal to carmakers,” said Senator Markey. “AM radio is an essential communication tool during emergencies, and for decades has been a source of news, entertainment, sports, and music for tens of millions of drivers.”
The bill has received pushback from automakers, including the Alliance for Automotive Innovation, of which GM is a member. Auto groups argue that AM radio receivers are not required for drivers to receive important emergency information and alerts. In addition, auto groups argue that the new bill would hinder technology progress, especially with regard to EVs, given a degree of electromagnetic interference generated by EV batteries. As such, the groups argue that compliance would stall EV adoption and EV technology development, and would result in decreased economic output and job losses.