By David Shepardson
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Two U.S. senators wrote seven major automakers on Friday urging them not to remove AM radio from new vehicles.
Senator Ted Cruz, the top Republican on the Senate Commerce Committee, and Democrat Ed Markey, who also sits on the panel, wrote to BMW, Volkswagen, Tesla, Mazda, Polestar, Rivian and Volvo Cars asking them to commit by July 7 to including AM radio in new vehicles.
“Preserving AM radio not only aligns with the growing recognition of its significance but also demonstrates a commitment to public safety and meeting consumer expectations,” the senators wrote.
The automakers did not immediately comment. Some have said electric vehicles can cause interference with AM radio.
Ford Motor said last month it would reverse course and not remove AM broadcast radio as a feature in 2024 model vehicles after lawmakers introduced legislation to require them, citing safety concerns about emergency alerts.
Markey said last month the seven automakers had opted to remove AM broadcast radio from their electric vehicles.
Lawmakers say losing AM radio undermines a federal system for delivering key public safety information to the public.
“AM radio covers a wider geographical area than FM radio signals or cell towers and it continues to reliably function during hurricanes, tornadoes, or other severe weather events when other communication networks may face outages,” Cruz and Markey said.
The Alliance for Automotive Innovation, a trade group representing major automakers, said, “mandating AM radios in all vehicles is unnecessary. Congress has never mandated radio features in vehicles ever before.”
Automakers pointed to an existing system that distributes warnings across AM, FM, internet-based or satellite radio, and over cellular networks.
Ford CEO Jim Farley said last month that for existing Ford EVs “without AM broadcast capability, we’ll offer a software update.”
A House panel held a hearing on the issue earlier this month, with many lawmakers raising objections to removing AM radio. The legislation has won the support of Federal Communications Commission Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel.
(Reporting by David Shepardson; editing by Jonathan Oatis)