AM Radio Absence: Here’s Why EVs Don’t Have AM Radio

There are plenty of positive reasons to buy an electric car. However, keen-eyed EV shoppers or owners will note that most EVs don’t have AM radio. Unfortunately, some EV owners may not realize that AM stations aren’t an option until after they purchase the car. Though AM radio is not the most popular, plenty of folks still use it, so if you’re an AM radio listener, you might not want to buy an EV.

Electric vehicle components interfere with AM radio, making it virtually unusable

2022 Kia Rio Sedan infotainment system
2022 Kia Rio infotainment system | Kia

According to the East Bay Times, the electric motors, speed controllers, and other cutting-edge technologies on electric vehicles emit a frequency that’s similar to that of AM radio. So, the results wouldn’t be pleasing if one were to try to pick up AM radio stations while driving an EV. In most EVs, you’ll get nothing but a bunch of static.

Radio interference is not a new concept with cars. Manufacturers have fought vehicle components interrupting radio signals for decades. However, the struggle with EV components takes the issue to all-new heights. The solution from most EV manufacturers at the moment is to simply leave an AM radio out of the equation altogether.

While there are options for reducing the interference, EV components’ similarity to the frequency of AM radio makes it exceptionally difficult to combat. Things like wire shielding, radio suppression relays, and other techniques to combat interference on fossil fuel vehicles don’t quite come up to snuff when it comes to electric power. Though it’s possible that the future may hold a solution, at the moment, there isn’t one.

A larger infotainment system inside of a Mercedes-Benz without AM radio
Larger infotainment system | Getty Images

There are still plenty of reasons to use AM radio. Talk shows, sports shows, and many niche music genre stations use AM frequencies to broadcast content. So, many EV owners may be left out if they’re frequent listeners. In the case of some EVs, though, there is currently a solution to this problem.

Some EVs let you listen to AM stations via FM frequencies

Some Tesla models like the model 3 come with AM radio functionality via HD radio.
The Tesla Model 3 | Tesla

Some Tesla models give you access to AM stations via HD stations. HD radio is a service that takes traditional AM broadcasts and puts them out in all-digital format. Many vehicles come with HD radio capabilities built-in. This means that many AM stations are broadcast via HD services on FM frequency bands.

Effectively, it’s easiest to think of HD radio as a content-converting middleman. It takes the radio content that an electric vehicle would interfere with and broadcasts it on an FM band that an EV can pick up without issue. Better still is the fact that HD radio’s all-digital formatting means you get crystal clear sound in high-quality stereo. Additionally, HD radio offers multiple stations on a single frequency, offering a virtually unlimited amount of listening options.

Overall, if you’re in the market for an EV and you’re a regular listener of AM radio, you may want to consider looking into a more fuel-efficient gasoline vehicle. Many modern hybrids offer astounding fuel economy numbers that can save you thousands of dollars on gas. Maybe eventually, though, a feasible solution for interference in EVs will be found.

For some high-fuel-efficiency gasoline options, keep scrolling down!

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