American car companies are fighting back against proposed requirements for AM radio

Photo credit: Dawid Zawiła

Lobbyists in the US auto industry are fighting back against the legislature over proposed requirements for AM radio in new vehicles.

After bipartisan lawmakers introduced a bill requiring automakers to retain AM radio functionality in their 2024 model year vehicles, lobbying group Alliance for Automotive Innovation (AIA) fought back, arguing that the functionality was unnecessary.

The AIA today began making its case before the House Communications and Technology Subcommittee and discussing the proposed AM for Every Vehicle Act bill at an upcoming hearing. The bill aims to direct NHTSA to enact a rule requiring automakers to keep AM radio in their vehicles at no additional cost to consumers.

Lawmakers supporting the bill raise concerns that removing AM radio from vehicles could impact emergency call situations, particularly in rural communities. This pushback seemed to have worked at first ford CEO Jim Farley announced that his company will retain AM radio in its latest model year vehicles. But the AIA – a Ford-backed lobbying group – has fought back, arguing that AM radio has no bearing on the transmission or reception of emergency alerts.

“Whether or not AM radio is physically installed in vehicles in the future will not affect the multiple methods of delivering these emergency communications alerts to the public.” says AIA CEO John Bozzella. “It is not necessary to prescribe audio functions in a vehicle. Congress has never gone down this route, especially in a competitive environment with so many choices, many of them free.”

AIA Vice President, Safety Policy, Scott Schmidt, testified before the House panel today that AIA members are “committed to ensuring that drivers have access to free, public alerts through the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s integrated public alert and warning system.” and have security alerts.”

“The intent is not for the public to rely on a single source to receive the warnings, but for a ‘web’ of sources to be created through which the public can receive them. In other words, the more the merrier.”

Still, supporters of the bill argue that in an emergency, such as a natural disaster, there are times when access to public alarm systems is restricted, meaning AM radio could play a crucial role. According to US Congressman Josh Gottheimer, this also includes times when there is no cell phone reception, no Internet or no television due to a lack of electricity.