Why AM Radio in EVs Could Cost Billions

Photo by Patrick Langwallner.

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Dennis Dura, who shares the following video via the Geerling Engineering YouTube channel:


The Center for Automotive Research says it would cost the industry $3.8 billion dollars to solve interference problems in EVs to put AM radio in new cars.

It’s a wonder any EVs on the road today have AM radio tuners, then! But they don’t seem to happy with new legislation, the AM Radio for Every Vehicle Act. We dive into this spat between the radio industry, automotive manufacturers, and the US government.

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17 thoughts on “Why AM Radio in EVs Could Cost Billions

  1. Maksim T

    Tired of car companies removing stuff so we have to pay for it instead as an add-on. Their reasons are utter hogwash. AM/MW as many have commented above have worked fine on many ev cars. Its also a important source of broadcast information. Nice try Ev’s. Though I’m Canadian, I’m glad for the act the us senators presented because its almost guaranteed new cars will get AM here too.

  2. mangosman

    AM is from the T model Ford days. It is expensive to transmit, is polluting because between 67 – 100 % of the power transmitted contains no sound, it is called the carrier. For HD radio in the same band it is 90 % wasted. The broadcasters don’t like the interference it causes to other broadcasters either. TV channels 2 – 6 are virtually deserted and can hold nearly 300 DRM channels.

    Instead why not use a modern all digital radio called Digital Radio Mondiale. All of the power is in the data signal. I can carry emergency warnings limited to the area of the emergency when the rest of the audience is unaware of it, can transmit maps and detailed messages along with the location of police road blocks which will re route the driver around the emergency site. If the AM act did the same as the one which switched off the NTSC analog TV for digital or the 2020 law in the European Union which says all new vehicles must be capable of terrestrial digital radio, you would all hear stereo sound including hihg pitched sound and no noise. Give it around 15 years and the AM problem will be just a memory.

    1. qwertyamdx

      If other industries used the same marketing tactic as the DRM consortium – trying to push the same product over and over again, calling it “modern”, perhaps the IT companies would be now trying to convince us that Pentium 4 is a “modern” processor suitable for all use cases in the year 2024. DRM is not “a modern all digital radio” standard, it’s 2 decades old, delivers abysmal audio quality on bands below 30 MHz and has already been rejected by the absolute majority of broadcasters and countries that used to be involved in trials.

    2. qwertyamdx

      DRM is not “modern all digital radio”, it’s a standard that’s 2 decades old and has been widely rejected by the broadcast industry, receiver manufacturers and the consumers. It’s as modern as Nokia 6600, a cell phone released in the same month when the first DRM broadcast took place. I don’t see any telecoms offering it as a revolutionary device, but there still are people believing that they can convince anyone that DRM is the thing the radio industry is waiting for. It’s not, DRM has already been tried and subsequently rejected – the DRM consortium did not learn anything from that lesson. The marketing strategy applied by the DRM consortium, which is trying to sell the same product over and over again, does not work. Two decades later they have one country (India) that has launched regular domestic broadcasts, a total disaster. They should have spent money on R&D instead of such clumsy lobbying attempts, because there’s a lot to address in this matter: abysmal audio quality (DRM still relies on mid-90s modulation schema resulting in bitrates lower than dialup modems could deliver), lack of resistance to fading, co-channel interference, in-channel interference (already discussed) etc. Actions speak louder than words. Why some of the members of the DRM consortium are broadcasters that do not transmit any programmes in this system or electronic manufacturers that do not offer any DRM-capable receiver? They know that at this moment it’s just a publicity stunt, not a standard that could be reasonably advertised as a solution to any issue in the field of broadcasting in 2024. Einstein had famously said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Who could have thought that he was going to predict the arrival of DRM?

  3. Andy Howlett

    My friend Arthur has had a Nissan Leaf for several years and the AM reception in his car is crystal clear with a low background noise even on the move. So clearly it can be done. The cost of big ferrites is considerable, but not significant compared to the cost of the car overall. So why not fit the ferrites and the other screening and filtering components? Search me. On the other hand auto-makers are notorious for designing down to the last penny and they must be asking why fit a radio with AM when the band is on its last legs anyway? Why fit screened cable when plain stuff just works? What sad people listen to MW when they could be using FM or DAB? (that’s their question not mine btw). There are also weight constraints when every extra mile of range is worth advertising. I honestly don’t know.

  4. Bob LaRose

    The AM radio in my Chevy 2017 Volt (Hybrid) works great whether on battery or with engine running. Antenna is a blade on the roof, which may be part of their solution.

  5. Joseph Schierer

    Agreed. Instead of the market dictating what we want, we have our government telling us.
    Electric technology is promising, but it is not there yet. I think Hybrid cars make some sense, but all electric vehicles do not.
    I also laugh (cry) when they refer to EVs as zero emissions – what about the electric generated to power them?

    I also think you are right regarding the real reason they want to eliminate AM radios – no revenue stream for the auto manufactures, unlike when they force us to pay for Streaming apps.

  6. Andy Howlett

    My mate Arthur has had a Nissan Leaf for several years and the MW radio in it gets good, clean signals. So it can be done, it’s just that most EV makers can’t be bothered (or go to the expense of) fitting chokes and other filters.


    I bet that if they had to design for MILITARY VEHICLES, they wouldn’t have a problem with RFI for their radios or any communication devices.

  8. Rick

    The problems of RFI are real for EV cars, and are caused by multiple sources: Not just the addiitonal electronics in the dashboards and controls, but the inverters and motor coltrollers are going to hit MW (AM boradcast for you in America) very hard. Fixing that is a huge investment in additional work.

    As an amateur radio operator, I’m impacted slightly buy every EV that drives by me when I am mobile. Less so at home, but the chargers add to the RFI from solar panels, badly designed TVs, a miultitudfe of appliances, so much os that on many bands interfenece is a full strength signal.

    But I think the EV manufacturers should be compelled to support some basic features, and MW is a basic feature, useful in public emergencies. If they cannot, ok, but they will have to prove why to satisfy me,.

  9. William Pietschman

    I have a Toyota Prius Prime, and this is my fourth Prius. The AM radio not only has worked in all of them, they’ve worked so well that I could use them for DX listening at night. A few chokes per vehicle won’t cost those other manufacturers billions. Toyota has been making the Prius line for over twenty years now, and if they can put AM in cars, the others can, too.

  10. Mark

    This is just an excuse for car manufacturers not to include AM in their electric cars because the truth is that many people in these car companies believe AM has no place in their modern high tech cars.

    I had a 2015 Nissan Leaf with AM radio and it worked perfectly well !!!!

    I now have a VW id3 electric car and it’s just a horrible car with big screens and digital instrument cluster, everything is controlled in the screen and I hate it.

    Car cost 41,000 Euro’s ( Ireland prices ) and I’ve been offered 11-15,000 on trade in, the car is 2.5 years old, I hate it so much that I’m handing it back to the finance company.

    I was offered such low price because no one wants to take an electric car as trade in not even the VW dealer where I got the car…….

    The finance company told me many people are returning their electric cars.

    Range, recharge times are all a big issue along with queues at chargers, 30-50 mins to charge is unacceptable.

    I miss the sound of an engine and manual gears and within the next month I hope to be back in a proper combustion car.

    Electrics are too heavy, my id3 77 Kwh weighs 2,000 Kg and it really dulls the experience.

    We have a diesel Outlander and now run it on HVO100 fuel ( this fuel does not use any palm tree oil in Ireland) and it’s way better for the car and I believe this is far more economical than the destruction to land and water supplies that ev battery production causes, they need sulphuric acid to produce lithium and this also causes big environmental damage.

    I haven’t even started on Cobalt lol.

    EV being environmental is a complete and utter lie !

    1. Don Elliot

      You guys are missing it. It’s something that’s free now that they will later have the ability to charge money for. Thanks to the model created by Sirius/XM and others. Don’t believe the hogwash by the auto industry against it. There are plenty of manufacturers that have solved this situation such as discussed in the response above by a Prius/Toyota owner. Do your research. Plenty of information out there from the NAB and the Fcc.

      1. Rob W4ZNG

        Yes, it’s something like this going on, though I can’t quite put a finger on why the auto makers are resisting so much. It certainly can’t be over a couple of extra dollars to put ferrites on a few cables.

        So, is the reason to eliminate a free broadcast service and force people into various pay-to-play schemes? Seems like a lot of effort for something they’re claiming so few use anyway. Is it to eliminate a long-range broadcast receiver? That seems a tad paranoid, and somewhat implausible when most AM DXers have any number of receivers. Maybe to raise the background RFI level so that even non-EV drivers can’t use AM? Eh, maybe, but I don’t quite buy that either.

        I’m chalking it up to a failure of imagination, a failure to understand how those icky people out in fly-over country (like me!) live and actually use broadcast AM. Perhaps there’s also a lingering distaste over some of the political content. Perhaps there’s an anti-nostalgia bent to seem more “modern.” Even those seem like weak reasons, given that automakers are fighting this one so hard. It is a very strange question, and I’m still mulling over what could be the answer.


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