DETROIT — Owners of new Ford vehicles will after all be able to tune into AM radio in their cars, trucks and SUVs.
CEO Jim Farley wrote in social media posts on Tuesday that the company was reversing its decision to clean up the group after speaking to government politicians concerned about maintaining emergency alerts that often sound on AM stations. .
“We have decided to include it on all 2024 Ford and Lincoln vehicles,” Farley wrote on Twitter and LinkedIn. “For all Ford EV owners without AM streaming capability, we will be offering a software update” to restore it, Farley wrote.
The move comes after a bipartisan group of federal lawmakers introduced a bill asking 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 in areas rural.
Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass., one of the bill’s sponsors, said eight of the top 20 automakers, including Ford, BMW and Tesla, have removed the group from new vehicles.
“Ford’s U-turn reflects a belated realization of the importance of AM radio, but too many automakers are still going in the wrong direction,” Markey said in a written statement Tuesday. He said Congress would still need to pass the bill to keep access to the group.
Ford removed AM from 2023 Mustang Mach-e and F-150 Lightning electric pickup trucks after data collected from the vehicles showed less than 5% of customers listened to it, spokesman Alan Hall said. Electrical interference and reduced manufacturing cost and complexity also played a role.
The company also removed it from the 2024 gas-powered Mustang, but will add it back before the muscle cars ship, Hall said.
Electric vehicles will receive an online software update to put AM back in vehicles, and Ford will continue to include it in future vehicles as it explores innovative ways to provide emergency alerts, Hall said. .
Ford and others have also suggested that Internet radio or other communication tools could replace AM radio. But Markey and others pointed to situations where drivers might not have internet access.
The Federal Communications Commission and National Association of Broadcasters welcomed the legislation, which is also supported by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, Rep. Josh Gottheimer, DN.J., Rep. Tom Kean, Jr., RN .J., Rep. Marie Gluesenkamp 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 Alerts and Warnings System, which can broadcast safety warnings over AM, FM, Internet and satellite radio — as well as cellular networks. .
The alliance said the bill gives preference to technology that competes with other communication options.
BMW said in a statement that if the bill is approved, the automaker will review the wording and decide what to do next. Messages were left seeking comment from Tesla.
According to the National Association of Broadcasters and data from Nielsen, more than 80 million people in the United States listen to AM radio each month.