Ford announced Tuesday it has reversed plans to cut AM radios from most of its new vehicles starting in 2024, with car, truck and SUV owners all benefitting from the decision. The manufacturer will also restore AM on two electric vehicles from 2023.
CEO Jim Farley used social media to confirm the company is walking back a decision to scrub the radio band after speaking with government policy leaders concerned about keeping emergency alerts that often are sounded on AM stations.
“We’ve decided to include it on all 2024 Ford and Lincoln vehicles,” Farley wrote on Twitter and LinkedIn. “For any owners of Ford’s EVs without AM broadcast capability, we’ll offer a software update.”
After speaking with policy leaders about the importance of AM broadcast radio as a part of the emergency alert system, we’ve decided to include it on all 2024 @Ford & @LincolnMotorCo vehicles. For any owners of Ford EVs without AM broadcast capability, we’ll offer a software…
— Jim Farley (@jimfarley98) May 23, 2023
The move comes after months of anger by current and intending Ford owners who protested at the move, as Breitbart News reported.
It also follows a bipartisan group of federal lawmakers who introduced a bill last Wednesday calling on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to require AM in new vehicles at no additional cost.
Sponsors of the “AM for Every Vehicle Act” cited public safety concerns, noting AM’s historic role in transmitting vital information during emergencies, such as natural disasters, especially to rural areas, ABC News reports.
The automaker had previously announced plans to drop the AM radio from its electric vehicles due to “interference” between the electric drive train and AM reception.
Leaders in the broadcast industry, radio executives, and policymakers all expressed concern about the decision to phase out AM radio.
The National Association of Broadcasters’ Alex Siciliano, senior vice president for communication, emphasized the value of AM radio in emergency situations. He told the Detroit Free Press when the move was first announced:
There’s no question that AM radio plays a critical role in informing Americans and keeping them safe; it is the backbone of the Emergency Alert System. This is why numerous policymakers and FEMA representatives have sounded alarm bells for automakers.
We are certain that Ford does not want to alienate the nearly 48 million Americans who listen to AM radio, and we’ll continue working closely with the Alliance for Automotive Innovation and individual manufacturers to keep this important service in cars.
At least eight auto manufacturers have eliminated AM from vehicles, but thus far, apart from Ford, the exodus had mostly been limited to electric vehicles, with electrical interference being cited as a primary factor.
Ford spokesman Alan Hall told the Associated Press the company had earmarked the the 2024 gasoline-powered Mustang as a non-EV that would go out without AM, but it will now be added before the car is delivered.
In two Ford EVs, the 2023 Mustang Mach-e and F-150 Lightning, the software update should supposedly take care of making AM available.
The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) applauded Ford’s reversal.
President-CEO Curtis LeGeyt said, “NAB commends Ford for committing to keep AM radio in their vehicles, which will keep Americans safe and informed, particularly in times of emergency. With tens of millions of listeners, AM radio continues to serve as a vital lifeline to the public and a critical source of community news and exchange of diverse ideas.
According to the National Association of Broadcasters and Nielsen data, more than 80 million people in the U.S. listen to AM radio every month.