GOP reps urge Ford, Tesla and other automakers to keep 'life-saving' AM radio in new models

'AM radio plays a crucial role in emergency communications infrastructure,' Rep. Pence said

A group of bipartisan lawmakers is calling on the nation's leading car manufacturers to "maintain" AM radio receivers in vehicles over safety concerns. 

Rep. Bob Latta, R-Ohio, and Rep. Greg Pence, R-Ind., sent a letter with 100 signatures to Ford, Volkswagen, BMW, Mazda, Volvo, Tesla, Polestar, Rivian, GM, and Mercedes-Benz on Monday. The letter, obtained by Fox News Digital, outlined issues with the push to pull AM radio from new car models

"AM radio plays a crucial role in our nation’s emergency communications infrastructure by providing cost-free, ongoing, and life-saving information during natural disasters. Despite new technologies, the elimination of AM radio from vehicles could still cause a serious communication issue during times of crises, particularly in rural areas where broadband connectivity is unreliable. It is critical that automaker companies do not deprive the American people of AM radio, as it is a free and potentially life-saving source during emergencies," Rep. Pence told Fox News Digital


In addition to concerns, Rep. Latta and Rep. Pence – both members of the Energy and Commerce Committee – outlined a number of questions for automakers revolving around the AM radio removal, including what models and years will see the changes. 

"Rural Ohioans know the importance of access to AM radio. When the Internet is down or cell service is nonexistent, we need AM radio to keep our families and communities informed and safe. Whether it’s to receive reliable emergency alerts and warning information, the latest on extreme weather conditions, or updates on health emergencies, AM radio is the dependable and lifesaving link that connects and informs millions of Americans," Rep. Latta said to Fox News Digital.

"With reports that automakers are planning to remove or already removing broadcast AM radio receivers from current or future vehicles, we are simply requesting they provide clear and direct answers to our questions regarding these reports and urge they maintain AM radio receivers in all vehicles to prioritize consumer and public safety," he added.

When asked about removing AM radio from vehicles, Rivian told Fox News Digital the company has "no plans to discontinue" the services in "current or future" vehicles.

"Rivian offers free access to AM and FM radio services in all Rivian consumer vehicles that come standard in each vehicle. AM radio service from local and national stations is provided via digital radio platforms (thus ensuring enhanced audio quality). FM content may be accessed either digitally or via built‐in receiver. Rivian has no plans to discontinue either of these features in its current or future consumer vehicles," a Rivian spokesperson told Fox News Digital.

Ford, however, said they will be "removing" AM radio while offering options for customers to continue to hear AM "music, news and podcasts" during the transition.

"A majority of U.S. AM stations, as well as a number of countries and automakers globally, are modernizing radio by offering internet streaming through mobile apps, FM or digital options. Ford will continue to offer these options for customers to hear their favorite AM radio music, news and podcasts as this transition continues. Less than 5% of radio usage in our vehicles is through amplitude modulation – the definition of AM in this case, which we are removing from our vehicles," the company said in a statement to Fox News Digital.

Spokespeople for the other automakers did not return Fox News Digital's request for comment. 

The dashboard display of a Mercedes-Benz

Rep. Bob Latta, R-Ohio, and Rep. Greg Pence, R-Ind., sent a letter to ten manufacturers including Mercedes-Benz expressing concerns over removing AM radio from new vehicle models. (REUTERS/Carlos Barria / Reuters Photos)

Automakers like Tesla, BMW and Ford are opting to cut AM radio from new models, particularly electric vehicles, due to the added expense and added weight of the radios. In addition, the manufacturers claim there are now a variety of ways information is accessible. 

Manufacturers are also concerned over alleged interference between electromagnetic frequencies from motors and AM radio frequencies, which create a buzzing noise and a weak signal.

According to the letter, there are more than 45 million AM radio listeners each month in America, and the service is a critical part of the Emergency Alert System (EAS). 


"Our constituents rely heavily on it for emergency alerts and local news, information, and weather. In the case of natural disasters – tornadoes, floods, wildfires, and other local emergencies – AM radio is a lifeline," the letter explains. "We cannot deprive them of that free, life-saving resource."

"Over 75 radio stations, most of which operate on the AM band and cover at least 90% of the U.S. population, are equipped with backup communications equipment and generators that allow them to continue broadcasting information to the public during and after an emergency. Most importantly, AM radio is free to all Americans, not requiring a subscription or a broadband connection," the letter also says.

Rep. Latta and Rep. Pence's efforts have been supported by the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), a trade association founded in 1923 representing both radio and television broadcasters.

"NAB thanks Reps. Bob Latta (OH-5), Greg Pence (IN-6) and the 100 bipartisan signatories to this letter who are fighting to keep AM radio in cars. These legislators understand the critical role that AM radio plays in disseminating vital information to the public, particularly in times of emergency. Tens of millions of Americans listen to AM radio each month for its local and diverse content and we applaud these lawmakers for their commitment to their constituents who depend on AM," NAB President and CEO Curtis LeGeyt said in statement. 

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Ford Motor Co. is reportedly preparing to remove AM radio in most of its "new and updated 2024 models," according to the Detroit Free Press. 

"Ford will continue to offer these alternatives for customers to hear their favorite AM radio music, news and podcasts as we remove amplitude modulation -- the definition of AM in this case -- from most new and updated models we bring to market," Ford spokesperson Wes Sherwood told the newspaper, noting that commercial vehicles will still retain AM radio features because of contract language.

Last year, Ford said it was going to remove AM radio from its 2023 model year F-150 Lightning electric trucks as "the frequencies involved in AM radio tend to be directly affected by the electromagnetic noise in EV propulsion systems," according to The Wall Street Journal.

The Wall Street Journal reported also that seven former Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) administrators wrote to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and congressional committees in February asking the U.S. government to seek assurances from automakers that AM radio will remain a feature in vehicles.


The letter from Energy and Commerce Committee members Rep. Latta and Rep. Pence is the latest pushback from experts who fear the decision may be putting Americans at risk.

"We urge you to maintain AM radio receivers in all vehicles and prioritize consumers and public safety," the letter concluded.

FOX Business' Greg Norman contributed to this report.