Some electric vehicle (EV) manufacturers are scrapping the AM radio from their cars, claiming safety concerns. Although conservative talk radio dominates AM radio ratings, it is also considered a critical safety tool, as it is one of the primary ways that federal, state, and local officials communicate with the public during natural disasters and other emergencies.
Automakers such as Ford and Tesla have ditched the AM radio from their newer EV models, arguing that the motors on EVs interfere with AM frequencies, creating buzzing and signal fading, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal.
But former emergency officials are warning that scrapping the AM radio would mean EV drivers could miss important safety alerts.
Seven former Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) administrators said in a Sunday letter — obtained by WSJ — to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and several congressional committees that the government should seek assurances that automakers will keep the AM radio in their vehicles.
FEMA says that more than 75 radio stations are equipped with backup communications and generators that allow them to continue broadcasting information to the public amid an emergency.
“Should this continue, it will represent a grave threat to future local, state, and federal disaster response and relief efforts,” the letter read.
The former FEMA officials added that while drivers can use their smartphones to tune into certain radio stations, the signal that allows them to do so aren’t as reliable as AM radio during emergencies.
Last fall, Ford said it would be removing AM radio from newer 2023 model year F-150 Lightning electric trucks, citing AM radio frequencies.
“The frequencies involved in AM radio tend to be directly affected by the electromagnetic noise in EV propulsion systems,” Ford said.
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