Music cartridges didn’t see it off. Neither did cassettes, nor CDs. But AM radio in cars might just have met its nemesis in the future of road transport.
It seems it’s about to be killed off by electric-powered motors, according to the Wall Street Journal: what drives Teslas at speeds that match many petrol-driven cars, and the Chevy Bolt well over 200 miles on a single charge, also turns AM reception on the move into unlistenable static.
The result is that electric car makers are starting to leave out the analogue option entirely.
A General Motors spokeswoman said the manufacturer was aware of the problem with the Bolt and had “taken steps”, but didn’t elaborate.
Experts say the problem is caused because electric vehicles produce electromagnetic frequencies on the same wavelength as AM signals – that produces a nasty buzzing and cause the radio signal to fade in and out.
“You get two signals that literally collide into each other and cancel each other out before the antenna even receives the signal,” Brian McKay, head of engine innovation and technology at the North American operations of Continental, told the Journal.
And as electric motors are designed to be ever more powerful, so the interference worsens. And rather than try and solve the problem, many car makers have decided to simply drop AM radios from their electric vehicles.
Honda no longer offers them on its hybrid electric Acura NSX sports car. And Tesla has now removed AM radios from all its current models. Instead, drivers have to settle for an internet-based radio service, plus FM radio, optional HD radio, and Bluetooth to smartphones for streaming music or radio stations digitally.
It’s another blow for AM stations, many of which have already been hit by steadily declining ad revenue.
But, while the number might be up for AM in cars of the future, that doesn’t mean radio in other forms has lost its appeal, even in cars.
According to Nielsen, more Americans still tune into AM/FM radio than any other platform, and 93% of US adults listen to radio every week — “more than those watching television or using a smartphone, TV connected device, tablet or PC”, the audience researchers say.
Sourced from Wall Street Journal, Radio World; additional content by WARC staff