Once at the center of American life, AM radio stands in the middle of a tussle between automakers who want it gone and federal lawmakers who say it is key for emergency alerts during catastrophes.
BMW, Mazda, Polestar, Rivian, Tesla, Volkswagen and Volvo do not offer broadcast AM radio in their electric vehicles, citing the EV motor's electromagnetic interference with the AM system and a resulting ticking sound. About a third of all new EV models available for purchase in the United States in 2023 are not equipped with an AM tuner, according to SBD Automotive, a global automotive technology research firm.
Automakers are dumping the radio as they face immense pressure to cut costs, reduce complexity and increase EV efficiency, even marginally. Competition is fierce and companies are struggling to make money on electric vehicles under $70,000. They also cite little AM radio use by new-car buyers.