Senate will soon vote on whether to require AM radio in new cars

Getty Images

AM radio in automobiles may live to broadcast another day—or indefinitely.

Last December, Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) sent a letter to 20 auto manufacturers asking the companies whether they plan to, or already have, discontinued access to free broadcast AM radio in their vehicles, including any battery-powered models. Of the 20 companies, eight—BMW, Ford, Mazda, Polestar, Rivian, Tesla, Volkswagen, and Volvo—said yes. 

Ten automakers—Honda, Hyundai, Jaguar/Land Rover, Kia, Lucid, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Stellantis, Subaru, and Toyota — still maintained access to broadcast AM radio in their vehicles, they said. Two additional automakers, Mercedes-Benz and General Motors, refused to provide individual responses and instead relied on a message from the industry trade group, the Alliance for Automotive Innovation, which claims that AM radio is a technology that has lost its potency; while AM radio is “the backbone” of the Emergency Alert System according to the National Association of Broadcasters, the AAI claims that it is no longer relevant.

The results of the inquiry prompted Markey and his colleague across the aisle, Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) to introduce legislation in May of 2023 called the AM Radio for Every Vehicle Act. The Act would require that car manufacturers include AM radio in every new vehicle, including electric ones, at no charge.

We mention electric vehicles because manufacturers say that the electric powertrain interferes with the AM signal and that circumventing that interference is difficult. The Alliance for Automotive Innovation has pushed back, saying there are other ways for the public to receive emergency warnings besides the AM band.

“Whether or not AM radio is physically installed in vehicles in the future has no bearing on the multiple methods of delivering emergency communications alerts to the public,” said AAI CEO John Bozzella. “Mandating audio features in a vehicle isn’t necessary. Congress hasn’t ever gone this route, especially in a competitive environment with so many choices, many of them free.”

Ford, for one, has backtracked on its decision to drop AM.

Last week, Markey and Cruz “celebrated the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee’s vote to advance the AM Radio for Every Vehicle Act.” They say the Act should go to the full Senate floor for a vote “sometime this year,” following the August recess.

“Today’s vote to advance the AM Radio for Every Vehicle Act sends a clear signal to carmakers,” said Senator Markey. “AM radio is an essential communication tool during emergencies, and for decades has been a source of news, entertainment, sports, and music for tens of millions of drivers. I thank Senator Cruz for his partnership as we work to cut through the noise and uphold access to AM radio as we plug into our clean-energy, all-electric future.”

The radio in a 1986 Ford Mustang GT Cameron Neveu

“AM radio serves a critical function during emergencies,” said Senator Cruz. “It reliably gets important information to the public, which is why several former FEMA administrators and representatives of the emergency response community have called for AM radio to remain in vehicles. AM radio is also vital to free expression and viewpoint diversity. With low barriers to entry, it allows Americans, especially conservatives, to communicate their points of view and help free speech flourish.”

According to DGR News, the House version of the bill is pending, with bipartisan support that includes 70 Republican and 68 Democrat cosponsors of the bill. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota) said that of the 4000 AM stations in the country, 1500 broadcast largely to farmers and ranchers with agricultural news. “Minnesotans look to AM radio for everything from news and weather updates to music and sports scores. It’s critical to protect AM radio for our communities, but right now, it’s on the chopping block,” said Klobuchar. “That’s why I’ve been working to pass the AM for Every Vehicle Act, and now this legislation is one step closer to becoming law,” she said in a statement. 

Talk show host Sean Hannity told the Los Angeles Times that most of his 13 million listeners tune in on AM. He’s ready to draw attention to any and all auto companies that remove the band: “If they’re being obstinate about this, I’m just gonna name the names and let people know that they’re silencing conservative voices here,” Hannity said. “I don’t think they’ve put a lot of thought into it.”




Check out the Hagerty Media homepage so you don’t miss a single story, or better yet, bookmark it. To get our best stories delivered right to your inbox, subscribe to our newsletters.

Click below for more about
Read next Up next: 12 of our favorite off-road trim package names


    I bought a 94 Cavalier with no radio at all it was an option and I bought a 99 Accent which did not have a radio either. Why was it ok in the 90’s but now it’s an issue!

    Valid point about the cost. But AM radio and cell coverage are about the same at 90% nationwide. I think where phones have the edge is push alerts. I gotten several warnings over the years. My car radio can’t do that.

    Let’s look on the bright side..this seems to have bipartisan support.
    On that basis alone I’m for it!

    Seriously, in 1990 I was transferred to Dayton Ohio and found myself in need of a winter car to spare my Miata from rust.
    I bought a ’85 Nova….you might remember them, a badge engineered Toyota Corolla built in California at the plant that now assembles Teslas.

    It just had an AM AC, 4-speed, pretty basic.
    So, I had to listen to LWL out of Cincinnati.
    They had a good comic afternoon DJ, and ex-Bengal Chris Vollinsworth who was just starting out in broadcasting (before he got insufferable on NBC’s NFL broadcasts).
    Anyway, not too bad.

    Eventually, the door lock broke but considering there was nothing in the car worth stealing it didn’t matter. I even tempted gate and drive it to a Reds game, I figured no self respecting bad guy (in a bad neighborhood) would steal an AM radio. I was right.

    Why don’t they just leave AM as an option, kind of like it had always been since they first started putting radios in cars. Let people make their own decisions. Is this really the crap we are paying our Senators and Representatives for?

    I agree…with all the stuff going on today, why are they wasting their time with a CONSUMER issue. Let the market set the policy. This is only a proposal and even if the AM radio was eliminated in your car, you could always buy a portable AM emergency radio for use in parts of the nation that have poor FM, cell, etc. reception. I would much prefer the politicians spend their time dealing with real issues. But yes….I have been in areas that there was NO FM reception, no cell phone, etc. People that live in those areas don’t have a choice other than AM. Finally….those who are relying on internet, cell phone, FM to always be there in an emergency..,,, how has that worked out for you 😉

    I’d prefer Congress stay out of this.
    Let market forces decide… if enough people want AM radio, it will remain standard; if not, offer it as an option.

    I listen to AM radio in my car everyday and will not consider buying an automobile from a manufacturer that does not offer AM radio in their cars. AM radio offers soo much support to listeners concerning weather and other emergencies that if AM radios are discontinued in automobiles and trucks many lives will be put in jeopardy.

    Listening to crackpot talk radio is one of my favorite pastimes, whether I happen to agree or not, particularly on long drives.
    Long live AM radio!

    I agree with several of the poster here. I too sometimes listen to AM stations. But, having or not having AM radio is not my complaint. Big brother is in our lives way , way too much. As a motorcycle rider since the late 50’s , I have never gotten on my bike without a helment. However it really makes my rear end pucker to know that big brother says I must wear my helment. I wore a helment to protect my head before my government made it an offense to not wear a helment.

    Wow, lots of comments on this one! I do a fair amount of long-haul driving out the middle of nowhere across Nevada, Utah, and Colorado. am radio works when nothing else does. I’ve listened to dodger radio net work from the Bonneville salt flats. I’ve also tuned in the 49er games from the middle of Nevada broadcast from the Bay Area. Those roadside alerts in the mountain areas of California are useful. Also, modern vehicles with SiriusXM produce pretty good sound, but I still use the AM radio for sports news and weather. The talk shows not so much. my favorite talk Radio is the big Steve hour… keep on Truckin

    I think my viewpoint might be a bit different than all of you… Here it is:
    Our great country is hopelessly divided, with the two majority parties drifting ever further apart.
    We’re broke, and heading towards bankruptcy because to do anything truly meaningful about it would be certain political suicide.
    It’s unknown and virtually uncontrollable which will collapse first, the ecology or the economy.
    So our poor legislators, you see, they need a win, no matter how silly or inconsequential. Something to rallye around, to make themselves look good.
    HEY!!! I got it – save the AM RADIO!

    The point is, AM cannot work well in electric vehicles. Will they (Electric vehicles) STILL be required to be equipped with an AM radio IF this bill passes?

    The point is not that AM radios don’t work well in EVs, it is that the EVs emit RF interference and it is expensive to shield against.

    The larger issue is the undue RF interference they emit into other areas and interrupt radio transmission spectrums where they are required to shield against.

    Given segments of the AM band being gobbled up for other uses, this RF interference is going to become a bigger issue. But by all means, neglect the larger issue and blame Rush Limbaugh fans.

    We are both saying the same thing, just in a different way. Don’t work well with EV’s, RF interference too expensive to shield. Okay. Tomato to-MOT-o

    Why not just make it an option for the consumer instead of mandatory. Anyone remember the radio delete option on certain vehicles.

    AM stations (and some FM stations) provide opportunities for Spanish language broadcasts for listeners who may be part of local Spanish language communities. That access, via car radio, may be the main source of news and entertainment for some. And, AM stations covering Native American/First Nation regions in the local tongue may be the major source of local news for those listeners.

    I think the point is – if you actually read the responses and/or ask more than just yourself – is that a lot of people DO listen to it. Of course, if your mind is made up that it’s unneeded and/or only for right-wingers, you are not really interested in facts, so yes, just ignore them and figure you are the only one who counts. Move along folks, nothing further to discuss here, it’s now been undeniably determined that NO ONE listens to AM radio…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *