A new study by the Center for Automotive Research indicates the shielding and filtering needed to prevent the electromagnetic field of EV systems from interfering with analog AM radio signals could cost billions of dollars to implement.
As reported by CarGroup, the study was conducted because of political plans to require automakers to include AM radio equipment in their EV models to receive emergency broadcasts.
Over the opposition of car companies, a bipartisan bill entitled the AM Radio for Every Vehicle Act passed the House this summer before moving on for Senate approval. The bill, according to a Congressional Budget Office summary, requires “that AM broadcast stations be accessible in all passenger motor vehicles manufactured in, imported into, or shipped within the United States.”
The bill’s goal is to ensure U.S. citizens can tune in to crucial informational broadcasts, which are typically made on the AM frequency, during emergencies, natural disasters, and other dangerous situations. Senators Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Edward J. Markey (D-Mass) introduced the bill.
Cruz remarked AM radio “reliably gets important information to the public” and added that AM frequencies aid free speech and are “vital to free expression and viewpoint diversity” because of the low barriers to broadcast entry.
Automakers argued the electromagnetic interference generated by EV batteries will distort or block AM radio signals, and the new study appears to support this contention. The Center for Automotive Research quoted industry figures indicating a basic materials cost per vehicle of $15 to $20 for filtering and $35 to $50 for shielding, or $50 to $70 in total.
However, research, development, and testing of the systems needed to prevent AM radio band distortion would add immensely to these costs. The burden would fall particularly on mainstream automakers such as GM and Ford, which need to keep costs as low as possible in order to afford transitioning their vehicle lineups to EVs.
The report projects extra costs to automakers from an AM radio shielding program to add up to $3.8 billion by 2030. The shielding also adds somewhat to EV weight, thus potentially shaving a few miles off range, already a critical component in persuading people to buy an electric vehicle model.
Finally, the filtering and shielding methods do not completely remove interference from AM band signals, meaning the audio quality will be poorer than an ICE vehicle despite the expensive mitigation systems. The study concludes that a better approach is “deleting analog AM radio from vehicles and providing consumers with alternative products for in-vehicle audio content.”
Meanwhile, GM cross-town rival Ford decided to include AM radio in all of its 2024 vehicle models in both its Ford and Lincoln lineups. Simultaneously, a GM representative said the automaker has no current plans to delete AM radio from its vehicles, but that it was impossible to comment on the inclusion of AM radio in future vehicles.