Former administrators of the Federal Emergency Management Agency are imploring carmakers to restore AM radio in their electric models for emergency purposes, according to a Wall Street Journal report.
Brands have eliminated the formerly standard feature from later models because they say the vehicles’ motors produce electromagnetic frequencies on the same wavelength as AM signals, creating interference that leads to signal fading and buzzing sounds.
But ex-FEMA heads say AM is needed in case of emergency so occupants can hear broadcasted safety alerts.
The former executives wrote a letter to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and some congressional committees, pressing them to obtain assurances from carmakers that they’ll include AM radio in EVs.
They said AM is foundational in the federal National Public Warning System that keeps the public informed during natural disasters and extreme weather, continuing to operate when other systems can fail. Cellphone and other internet technology isn’t as reliable, the ex-executives said in the letter.
FEMA said that more than 75 radio stations, most on the AM band and reaching at least 90% of the U.S. population, have backup equipment allowing them to continue broadcasting in an emergency.
Some EV makers continue to install AM in their models, including Toyota, which said it’s a “challenge” to maintain in EVs, the Wall Street Journal said. Others, including Ford, have eliminated it from at least some models.
Industry group the Alliance for Automotive Innovation said it’s committed to protecting access to safety alerts, according to a letter to Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., who wrote EV makers late last year to ask about their plans for AM in EVs, the report indicated.