After announcing plans to stop installing AM radios in new vehicles, Ford Motor Company has now reversed course. According to CEO Jim Farley, the company had a change of heart “after speaking with policy leaders about the importance of AM broadcast radio as a part of the emergency alert system.”
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
Our own Andrew Malcolm recently discussed the important role of AM radio in his Malcolm on the Right podcast, noting:
When I was young, AM radio was ubiquitous. The media everyone used, literally everyone. In those prehistoric days when roaming dinosaurs were a recent memory, there was no Twitter, Facebook, Telegram, WhatsApp, TikTok, and the other social media that so often seem the opposite.
However, whenever you heard that loud, annoying Emergency Broadcast System alert, all chatter stopped. You knew to listen closely because something bad was afoot, bad as in Tornado.
So, I was shocked to learn from my good friend, John Phillips, that the Ford Motor Company, among numerous others, has decided to stop installing AM radios in the new electric cars that our president never uses but is mandating that everyone else buy.
This struck me as one of those cockamamie decisions inflicted on Americans for big corporate and political reasons that have nothing to do with customer service.
Andrew wasn’t the only one to sound the alarm. A bipartisan group of federal lawmakers got together and introduced the “AM for Every Vehicle Act,” pointing to “AM’s historic role in transmitting vital information during emergencies, such as natural disasters, especially to rural areas.” The bill would require the band in new vehicles at no additional cost.
But Ford’s reversal doesn’t render the bill moot.
Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass., one of the bill’s sponsors, has said eight of 20 major automakers including Ford, BMW and Tesla have pulled the band from new vehicles.
“Ford’s reversal reflects an overdue realization about the importance of AM radio, but too many automakers are still going the wrong direction,” Markey said in a written statement Tuesday. He said Congress should still pass the bill to keep access to the band.
As for Ford’s plans, they’ll be including the band in new models and offering to add it back in on those vehicles without it via a software update.
Ford removed AM from the 2023 Mustang Mach-e and F-150 Lightning electric pickups after data collected from vehicles showed that less than 5% of customers listened to it, spokesman Alan Hall said. Electrical interference and reducing cost and manufacturing complexity also played a role.
The company also took it out of the 2024 gasoline-powered Mustang, but will add it back in before any of the muscle cars are delivered, Hall said.
Farley’s full statement on Twitter:
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 update.
Customers can currently listen to AM radio content in a variety of ways in our vehicles – including via streaming – and we will continue to innovate to deliver even better in-vehicle entertainment and emergency notification options in the future.
Thanks to our product development and manufacturing teams for their quick response to make this change for our customers.