DETROIT – Owners of new Ford vehicles will be able to tune AM radios into their cars, trucks and SUVs.
CEO Jim Farley wrote in a social media posting Tuesday that the company is reversing the decision to scrap the bands after speaking with government policy leaders who are concerned about having emergency alerts that often sound on AM stations.
“We have decided to include this on all 2024 Ford and Lincoln vehicles,” Farley wrote on LinkedIn and Twitter. ,
The move comes after a bipartisan group of federal lawmakers introduced a bill Wednesday to require AM in new vehicles at no additional cost to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Sponsors of the “AM for Every Vehicle Act” cited public safety concerns, noting AM’s historical role in disseminating critical information during emergencies such as natural disasters, especially in rural areas.
Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass., one of the bill’s sponsors, said eight of the 20 major automakers, including Ford, BMW and Tesla, have pulled the band from new vehicles.
Spokesman Alan Hall said Ford removed the AM from the 2023 Mustang Mach-A and F-150 Lightning electric pickups after data collected from the vehicles showed less than 5% of customers heard it. Electrical interference and reducing cost and manufacturing complexity also played a role.
Hall said the company also took it out of the 2024 gasoline-powered Mustang, but it will be added back before any muscle cars are delivered.
EVs will get an online software update to put AM back in vehicles, and Ford will incorporate it into future vehicles as it looks for innovative ways to deliver emergency alerts, Hall said.
Ford and others also suggested that Internet radio or other communication tools could replace AM radio. But Markey and others pointed to situations where drivers may not have Internet access.
The Federal Communications Commission and the National Association of Broadcasters praised the legislation, which is also supported by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, Rep. Josh Gottheimer, D.N.J., Rep. Tom Kean, Jr., R.N.J. Rep. Mary Glusenkamp Perez, D-Wash., among others.
But the Alliance for Automotive Innovation, a US trade group that represents major automakers including Ford and BMW, criticized the bill, calling the AM radio mandate unnecessary.
The trade group pointed to the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Integrated Public Alert and Warning System, which can distribute safety warnings over AM, FM, Internet-based and satellite radio as well as cellular networks.
The coalition said the bill favors a technology that is competing with other communications options.
Messages were left Tuesday seeking comment from BMW and Tesla.
According to data from the National Association of Broadcasters and Nielsen, more than 80 million people in the United States listen to AM radio every month.