Ford Motor Co. has gone back on its plan to phase AM radio out of its vehicles.
Ford CEO Jim Farley made the announcement Tuesday via Twitter, after company officials said last month that AM would be dropped from new non-commercial vehicles.
“After speaking with policy leaders about the importance of AM broadcast radio as a part of the emergency alert system, we’ve decided to include it on all 2024 (Ford and Lincoln) vehicles,” Farley wrote.
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Owners of any electric Ford vehicles not currently equipped with AM reception would receive a free software update to enable it, he added.
The announcement from Canada’s biggest automaker by total sales comes after farmers on both sides of the border expressed concern over the possible loss of AM.
With many rural areas too remote for FM broadcasts, and satellite radio and internet technology not yet universally adopted, AM remains one of the only accessible in-vehicle media for Canadian farmers.
One of the major concerns was the future of emergency broadcasts — for which AM radio remains the only option in many rural areas of Canada.
Farley said Tuesday that Ford will “continue to innovate to deliver even better in-vehicle entertainment and emergency notification options in the future.”
Michigan-based Ford’s decision also comes as a bipartisan group of U.S. congresspeople brings forward a bill that would regulate U.S. automakers to maintain AM broadcast radio in their new vehicles at no additional charge.
That bill’s sponsor, Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts, said in a statement Tuesday that Ford’s reversal “reflects an overdue realization about the importance of AM radio, but too many automakers are still going the wrong direction.”
Markey noted he had previously written to 20 of the world’s leading automakers, of whom eight responded they will not include AM radio in new vehicles.
Companies such as Tesla, Mazda and Volkswagen have removed AM receivers from their electric vehicle (EV) lines, citing electromagnetic interference the EV drivetrain can create with the AM signal.
Representatives from Kubota, John Deere and Stellantis — the parent company of brands such as Chrysler, Jeep and Ram — all previously said in emailed statements to Glacier FarmMedia they do not plan to phase out AM from their vehicles.
— Jonah Grignon reports for Glacier FarmMedia from Ottawa; includes files from Glacier FarmMedia Network staff.