Congress launches bipartisan effort to keep AM radios in cars in the electric vehicle era

Automakers from Ford to BMW are removing AM radio from electric vehicles. and the new legislation would require them to make it available in each vehicle without additional fees.

Published: May 18, 2023 1:41am

Updated: June 6, 2023 4:19pm

Bipartisan legislation is being introduced in the House and Senate to keep AM radio from being removed from electric vehicles amid concerns the electric motors interfere with its frequency.

The AM for Every Vehicle Act has the support of Reps. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.), Rep. Tom Kean, Jr. (R-N.J.), Rob Menendez (D-N.J.), Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.). In the Senate, Sens. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) and Ted Cruz (R-Tex) are backing the bill.

The legislation would "direct the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to issue a rule that requires automakers to maintain AM broadcast radio in their vehicles without a separate or additional payment, fee, or surcharge," according to Gottheimer's office.

"The importance of AM radio during large-scale emergencies cannot be underestimated, and it has, without a doubt and without interruption, saved lives and kept our communities informed," he said.

"When the cell phone runs out, the internet gets cut off, or the television doesn’t work because of no electricity or power to your house, you can still turn on your AM radio. I’m proud to introduce the bipartisan AM for Every Vehicle Act in the House to ensure that all auto manufacturers include AM radio in their vehicles to protect public safety."

Westerman said the bill protections AM broadcast radio by "ensuring that automakers continue providing AM radio in new vehicles, cannot impose unnecessary fees or surcharges that would prevent Americans from accessing these vital services in their vehicles, and clearly indicate if any vehicle lacks AM radio capability." 

Cruz called on both chambers to promptly pass the bill.

"Congress should act swiftly to pass this bill so Americans retain access to news, music, talk, and emergency alerts on the public airwaves," he said. "I’m glad to work with Senator Markey on this bipartisan legislation to ensure carmakers do not limit Texans’ access to radio in their vehicles."

The bill follows news coverage this weekend about AM being removed, and some partisan speculation the move being intended to limit conservative talk radio shows, most of which having stations on the AM band.

Gottheimer specifically called out Tesla CEO Elon Musk for removing AM radio from new Tesla vehicles.

“I would think that if Elon Musk has enough money to buy Twitter and send rockets to space, he can afford to include AM radio in his Teslas. Instead, Elon Musk and Tesla and other car manufacturers are putting public safety and emergency response at risk,” he said. 

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