These Auto Makers Are Dropping AM Radio from Their New Models

Updated: May 24, 2023

Learn why certain automakers are removing AM radio from upcoming models, and which vehicles will be affected.

In a world of nearly limitless options for what to listen to in your car, one audio mainstay will soon be disappearing from many vehicles, probably for good—AM radio.

Several major vehicle manufacturers have decided the ability to play AM broadcasts while driving is no longer worthwhile, and have announced plans to remove the technology from future vehicle models. Reactions to this news have been divided, with many claiming AM radio remains useful today, over 120 years after its invention, and should continue to be accessible in all vehicles. The car makers in question disagree, citing data to back up their decision. Learn why this change is coming and which cars will be affected.

What Is AM Radio?

AM radio is a method of sound broadcasting that works by frequently changing the signal strength of the broadcast to accommodate different sounds.

Invented in the early 1900s, amplitude modulation radio (AM for short) used to be the only game in town for folks wanting to listen to news or music in their homes and cars. This began to change when FM broadcasting was invented in 1933, allowing better quality broadcasts with less static interference.

Since then, AM radio has changed its approach to avoid being deemed obsolete. Nowadays, it’s mostly known for local, specialized radio programs aimed at very specific audiences. Trouble is, certain automakers don’t feel it’s contributing enough to remain accessible in modern vehicles. Others say it clashes with other, more important vehicle technology.

Why Are Some Automakers Removing AM Radio from New Models?

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Volkswagen, BMW, Mazda and Tesla have all announced plans to remove AM radio from future electric vehicle models, claiming that electric motors interfere with AM signals, preventing the signals from coming through properly.

Ford has also announced plans to remove AM radio, not only from future electric vehicles but from gas-burning models as well, beginning with its 2024 Mustang. Ford claims that less than 5% of their customers’ in-car listening is AM radio, so removing the technology makes sense.

What Cars Will Likely Be Affected?

Unless the decision is reversed for some reason, all new EVs made by Volkswagen, BMW, Mazda and Tesla won’t have AM radio. No new Ford vehicle will have AM beginning next year. If this move negatively impacts AM broadcasters as deeply as some station owners fear, AM radio technology may eventually disappear from all vehicles.

That said, Toyota, Nissan and Honda all currently plan to maintain AM radio in future models, and America’s largest automaker, GM, has yet to announce plans one way or the other.