(NewsNation) — Some carmakers are removing AM radios from electric vehicles amid electromagnetic interference that disrupts the reception of the radio signals.
Manufacturers say the electric motors interfere with AM frequencies, creating annoying buzzing sounds and faded signals. However, some lawmakers and several former Federal Emergency Management Agency administrators are fighting back, saying it’s a public safety issue.
“Eliminating that in-car radio means when these other systems fail, it is less likely the public can be warned, particularly when it’s a national emergency,” said Craig Fugate, the Obama-era FEMA director. “AM radio provides the backbone of our national warning system. Of all of the technologies, it’s the most resilient to everything from cyberattacks to nuclear war.”
Radio is still a platform Americans utilize; 92% of the U.S. still listens to AM and FM radio with smartphones, according to a Nielsen Audio Today report.
Amid the controversy, Fugate said some manufacturers are successful at including AM radio in electric vehicles — it’s not something that cannot be done, but rather something carmakers are choosing not to do.
Fugate said AM is useful in disasters because it has a larger range, even over FM.
“FEMA working with local broadcasters have actually gone out and hardened these primary entry point stations that feed the national warning system, where the emergency alerts come from,” Fugate said. “And this is a system built to withstand attacks on the system, attacks on the infrastructure. And, in many cases, even in our natural hazards such as hurricanes and wildfires, (AM radio has) been one of the remaining technologies that still works.”