DETROIT (AP)... Owners of Ford cars, trucks, and SUVs will now be able listen to AM radio.
In a social media post on Tuesday, CEO Jim Farley announced that the company was reversing its decision to remove the AM band. This is after talking with government officials who were concerned about the emergency alerts being broadcasted often by AM stations.
Farley posted on Twitter and LinkedIn that he had decided to add it to all Ford and Lincoln cars by 2024. Farley wrote that 'for any Ford EV owners without AM broadcast capabilities, we will offer a free software update to restore this capability'.
This move follows a Wednesday bill introduced by a group of bipartisan federal legislators calling for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to mandate AM on new vehicles without additional costs.
The sponsors of the "AM for Every Vehicle Act" cited concerns about public safety, noting AM’s historical role in transmitting important information during emergencies such as natural disasters and especially to rural areas.
Eight of twenty major automakers, including Ford, BMW, and Tesla, have removed the band on new vehicles, according to Sen. Edward Markey (D-Mass. ), one of the bill’s sponsors.
Markey wrote in a statement on Tuesday that Ford's decision reflects a long overdue recognition of the importance AM radio. However, too many automakers continue to go the wrong way. He said Congress must still pass the bill in order to maintain access to this band.
Ford removed AM in the 2023 Mustang Mach-e electric pickups and F-150 Lightning after data from vehicles revealed that less than 5 percent of customers listened, said Alan Hall. Electric interference, cost reduction and manufacturing complexity were also factors.
Hall stated that the company will also add it to the 2024 gasoline powered Mustang before it is delivered.
Ford will continue to include AM in its future vehicles while it explores innovative ways of delivering emergency alerts.
Ford and others suggested internet radio or communication tools can replace AM radio. Markey and other drivers pointed out that some drivers may not have access to the internet.
Federal Communications Commission, National Association of Broadcasters and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) have all praised this legislation. It is also supported by Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.), Rep. Tom Kean Jr., R.N.J. and Rep. Marie Gluesenkamp Perez (D-Wash.).
The Alliance for Automotive Innovation (AAI), a U.S. industry group representing major automakers such as Ford and BMW, has criticized the bill. It says the AM radio mandate is unnecessary.
The trade group referred to the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Integrated Public Alerts & Warning System (IPAWS), which can broadcast safety alerts over AM, FM and internet radios, as well as cellular networks.
The Alliance said that the bill favors a communication technology that is in competition with other options.
BMW stated in a press release that, if the bill passes, it will review its language and determine what steps to take next. Tesla was contacted for comment.
According to data from the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) and Nielsen, over 80 million Americans listen to AM Radio every month.
Grantham-Philips reports from New York.