Detroit’s big three committed to FM/AM radio

ford_sync_252You may have heard the false rumors about AM & FM disappearing from the digital dashboard but the Big Three U.S. automakers have quickly dismissed the idea.

Chrysler spokesman Eric Mayne points out they’ve just announced plans to begin installing HD (digital) radio as standard on some Dodge Ram pickups. 

 It’s a similar message from General Motors where executives say they have “no near term plans” to stop installing broadcast radio in cars.

 Chief infotainment officer Phil Abram says: “While we are excited about the possibilities of internet radio services and other emerging services, we understand that AM/FM radio is still a significant source of news and entertainment. In fact, it is an expected feature.”

 At Ford, the story is similar.  Is AM more at risk? Spokesman Alan Hall says: “There are no plans to ‘disband’ the AM frequency.” 

At America’s No. 4 automaker Toyota, AM/FM radio remains in the dashboard and will do so for the foreseeable future.  But VP of advanced technology John Bucci told website Inside Radio last year he can imagine a day in his lifetime when cellular networks are reliable enough to put no-radio into the realm of possibilities. 

He said: “But cellular-delivered content has in and of itself the challenges of drop outs, signal strength, and other connectivity issues.  As things stand today, those connectivity issues make it a sure bet FM/AM radio will remain in the dashboard for the foreseeable future.”

Car manufacturers have spent hundreds of millions of dollars to develop and roll out digital dashboard systems, which may make radio look like it has lost its luster.  But in reality, the big automakers say their research shows drivers still expect FM/AM radio.

They also like the free content it brings.  And it’s remarkably cheap and takes up little dashboard real estate in comparison.  The hardware costs an average of less than $10.  Instead it’s the CD player that’s being phased-out.