US lawmakers strike back at automakers eliminating AM Radio

(Credit: Steve Jurvetson/CC BY 2.0)

United States lawmakers announced bipartisan legislation in the House to keep automakers from eliminating AM radio in new vehicles. The legislation is called the AM for Every Vehicle Act. 

House Representative Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) is leading the charge for the AM for Every Vehicle Act, along with co-leads Rep. Tom Kean Jr. (NJ-7), Rob Menendez (NJ-8), Bruce Westerman (AR-4), and Marie Gluesenkamp Perez (WA-3). The legislation also has Senators Edward J. Markey (D-MA) and Ted Cruz (R-TX) support from the Senate.

Below are the main objectives of the legislation: 

  • Encourage the National Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to issue a rule requiring automakers to maintain an AM broadcast radio in their vehicles without additional payment, fee, or surcharge to customers.
  • Require automakers who sell vehicles without access to AM radio to clearly inform consumers that their cars lack access to AM broadcast radio.
  • Encourage the Government Accountability Office to study whether alternative communication systems can replace and fully replicate the uses and effectiveness of AM radio, specifically for alerting the public to emergencies. 

The US lawmakers who support the AM for Every Vehicle Act have several reasons to keep AM Radio alive; above them all is the argument that AM radio is used to issue public alerts during emergencies. 

“I would think that if Elon Musk has enough money to buy Twitter and send rockets to space, he can afford to include AM radio in his Teslas. Instead, Elon Musk and Tesla and other car manufacturers are putting public safety and emergency response at risk,” said Rep. Gottheimer. 

“The importance of AM radio during large-scale emergencies cannot be underestimated, and it has, without a doubt and without interruption, saved lives and kept our communities informed. When the cell phone runs out, the internet gets cut off, or the television doesn’t work because of no electricity or power to your house, you can still turn on your AM radio. I’m proud to introduce the bipartisan AM for Every Vehicle Act in the House to ensure that all auto manufacturers include AM radio in their vehicles to protect public safety,” Gottheimer explained. 

Eight automakers have disclosed their decision or intention to eliminate access to free AM radio in their new vehicles. The list includes Tesla, Volkswagen, Rivian, Ford, Polestar, BMW, Mazda, and Volvo. All automakers have decided to eliminate access to AM radio in their electric vehicles, meaning the legacy OEMs who sell fossil fuel cars will still provide access to AM broadcast radio in their internal combustion engine (ICE) cars. However, Ford has announced plans to eliminate access to AM radio in all vehicle offerings, including ICE cars. 

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US lawmakers strike back at automakers eliminating AM Radio
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