Europe mandates compulsory digital radios in cars

Europe has mandated that all new cars sold within the EU will now be required to have digital radios.

Car manufacturers have two years to comply with the new directive, that was ratified just before Christmas.

Meanwhile, in France, digital radio penetration has reached a point where it has triggered a law requiring that by the end of 2019, all new consumer radios to include DAB+.

EU Vehicle Directive

This directive requires all new car radios sold in the European Union to be capable of receiving digital terrestrial radio, in addition to any FM or AM functionality which manufacturers may want to include. The code also grants EU member states the power to introduce rules requiring consumer radios to include digital capability.

Following its adoption by the European Council, the directive was published in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) and came into force on Dec 20 last year. For the automotive industry, the key section of the European Electronic Communications Code is Article 113, XI:

“Any car radio receiver integrated in a new vehicle of category M which is made available on the market for sale or rent in the Union from … [two years after the date of entry into force of this Directive] shall comprise a receiver capable of receiving and reproducing at least radio services provided via digital terrestrial radio broadcasting. Receivers which are in accordance with harmonized standards the references of which have been published in the Official Journal of the European Union or with parts thereof shall be considered to comply with that requirement covered by those standards or parts thereof.”


New French law

French regulator CSA announced that over 20% of the French population is now covered by DAB+ digital radio broadcasts. That announcement has triggered a law requiring that all new consumer radios must now include DAB+ by the end of 2019.

The law also applies to automotive receivers which have 18 months to comply.

DAB+ is currently available in six regions. In the next two years, coverage is expected to increase rapidly, reaching half the population by the end of 2019 and 70% by the end of 2020.

In parallel, national services are being rolled out across the major road networks – backed by all the major commercial broadcasters. A list of digital stations is available here.

The French receiver market totals five million units per year – within 12 months all these radios will need to have DAB+.

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