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US Senator Ed Markey takes fight to Tesla, Ford in battle to keep in-car AM radio

With the advent of connected vehicles, the era of in-car AM radio seems to be ending. But while automakers — from newer players like Tesla to veterans like Ford — are retiring AM radio from their vehicles, Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey is looking to keep the feature in today’s cars.

AM radio still reaches a notable number of Americans, and it still plays a key role during emergencies such as hurricanes. In a statement to Target 12, Markey noted that companies like Tesla and Ford are exploiting consumers by not providing basic features like AM radio in their newer vehicles.

“This is a big issue because we can’t allow companies like Tesla and Ford to exploit consumers who have been relying on AM radio for a hundred years when other automakers are still providing it for free,” Markey said.

Tesla did not issue a direct comment about the matter. A Ford spokesperson, however, provided a short statement. The veteran automaker noted that while it is phasing out AM radio from its vehicles, it is also providing consumers with alternatives.

“Ford will continue to offer these alternatives for consumers to hear their favorite AM radio music, news, and podcasts as we remove (AM) from most new and updated models we bring to market,” the spokesperson noted.

Tesla reportedly sent a letter to the US Senator explaining that the electric drivetrain of its vehicles is a source of interference to AM radio transmissions. The EV maker also noted in its letter that it had explained the matter to Markey’s staff.

“As you are aware, the electric drivetrain design that is necessary for the performance of electric vehicles is also the direct source of significant interference to AM radio transmissions. Specifically, electric vehicle drivetrains produce electromagnetic waves that interfere with the frequency of AM radio signals, which operate at a similar wavelength to the electric drivetrain.

“The resulting electromagnetic interference impacts the strength of the AM broadcast signal, causing severe disruption to AM radio transmission that makes the signal reception unstable and unusable. Despite these challenges, Tesla understands how important it is for Tesla owners to have access to preferred media, including AM radio, during daily commutes,” the EV maker’s letter read.

Markey, however, rejected Tesla’s explanation. “Technologically, it costs almost nothing to be able to figure out the interference issues. So this is gonna be a big battle,” the US Senator said.

Target 12‘s segment on Senator Markey’s fight for in-car AM radio can be viewed here.

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