Cars tyre of AM

AM frequencies in some vehicles could soon be a thing of the past. Photo: Gera Kazakov.

The Washington Post reported new electric vehicles in the US will no longer have an AM frequency available for drivers, however broadcasting stations in Perth say it won’t have much effect locally.

Auto manufacturer Ford has pledged to remove the AM band from all its vehicles in the US and Canada. There’s no word if the same will happen in the Australian market, however the Electric Vehicle Council’s 2022 report states that soon Australia will have 100,000 electric vehicles.  

Many of Perth’s AM radio stations have already transitioned to Digital Audio Broadcasting or DAB, with 6IX, 6PR and ABC Perth all available on the frequency.

It’s a move radio historian and former broadcaster John Cranfield believes was inevitable. He says Perth’s first radio stations were AM and date back to the 1930’s.

Radio Historian John Cranfield says AM has long been a key part of Perth’s radio history. Photo: Gera Kazakov.

He says AM frequencies have survived the introduction of FM on the airwaves, but the removal of the band from vehicles could see many forced to convert to DAB.

“Some countries have already got rid of AM … some countries in Europe have already got rid of FM,” he says.

He points to how CDs have managed to survive despite all odds, as a metric of health for AM radio.

“People still buy CDs,” he says.

Mr Cranfield believes AM radio stations, which already run simultaneous broadcasts on DAB, will “survive as they always have.”

Mr Cranfield says AM radio will always retain its crackly charm, while holding its place within rural areas as the dominant long-form broadcaster.

“You could still listen to it on your tractor as you’re farming. Radio is still very important for communication and people will always find a way,” he says.

Australian Electric Vehicle Association President Chris Jones says his electric vehicle still has AM frequency. Photo: Gera Kazakov.

President of the Australian Electric Vehicle Association Chris Jones is confident the removal of the AM frequencies from electric vehicles won’t affect emergency broadcasting.

“Generally, if they can get to you with AM, they can also get to you with FM, DAB, or any other digital system,” he says.

“If they really wanted to get your attention, they could send you a SMS.”

Mr Jones says while it’s sad AM will be phased out of new cars, he also provides a reminder that new cars are now connected to the internet, providing options for drivers to listen to whatever they want.

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